Waiting in Line Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on August 15, 2010

in Everyday Etiquette

everyday line etiquette

Nothing is worse than standing in line – nothing!  Make sure you’re not making a bad situation worse; brush up on your waiting in line etiquette!

No one likes to wait in line. Whether what is at the end of the line is something you are really looking forward to, like a carnival line, or something completely boring, like renewing your driver’s license at the DMV, lines are horrible. You can not do anything else while you are standing in line! The advances in cell phone technology with their games and internet access have helped tremendously, but, lines still suck. And the only thing worse than standing in line is when someone breaks the unspoken etiquette rules in relation to waiting in line. In order to teach the ignorant, we have published this list of waiting in line etiquette tips:

  • No cuts, no matter what! The only exception is if you are with a group of friends and you are either meeting them at a venue (like the line to get in the movies) or they went to stand in line while you went to the bathroom. Otherwise, no cuts. When you are standing in line and someone walking by recognizes a long last friend standing a couple of people ahead of you and they get to talking and suddenly, the person who found their long last friend has jumped into the line and added their five friends in front of you, I bet you are a little ticked. So, remember that and do not do it to someone else.
  • If you are going to use the grocery check out lane that is fifteen items or less, you better only have fifteen items or less.
  • If you are standing solo in line, it is perfectly acceptable waiting in line etiquette to ask the person behind you if they do not mind holding your spot if you need to go to the bathroom or any other item that will take just a moment. It is not acceptable to ask if you are running off to do something that will take awhile. For example, if you are in a line camping over night for concert tickets, it is not polite to ask the person in line behind you to hold your place while you go home and take a shower. They have to suffer and you do, too.
  • If the above happens to you and someone asks you to hold their place, waiting in line etiquette means you actually do that.
  • When standing in line, do not crowd the person in front of you. They are as far forward as they can go. Keeping in line with this, pay attention when you are standing in line and move forward when the line moves forward.
  • If you are at the front of the time, keep your eye out for the next agent/kiosk/whatever you are waiting for that is available. Do not stall the line down when you are all so close to the end!

Waiting in line etiquette can help a bad situation from turning into a worse one. Let’s all get to our destination politely!

Photo: dreamstime/Enrique Gomez

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Zimmer May 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm

How about, “No smoking while standing in line”, unless EVERYONE who could possibly smell it, is a smoker?

becky April 17, 2013 at 4:55 am

I lost my job in 2011 and now (2013) my funds are depleting. I have managed to aquire a part time on call job but they only call if there is a staff shortage…the part time hours therefore are not guaranteed hours.

Someone referred me to St Francis Center which I would be able to obtain 2 bags of groceries. The process begins at 1 p.m. but I was advised to arrive an hour early (by someone that had used the services before). I arrive at 11:45. I walked up to the front door and went in but no one was there. I exited the door and stood in front of the door and intended to do so until “start time.” I felt lucky as I was the only one there.
Apparantly this is a place where givers make clothing and household donations. Such was the case today as I saw to my left. I could see 15 or so hispanic women, a few with children, frantically digging into boxes and bags and grabbing what they could. Now it is about 12 noon, the time when the organization passes out first come first served numbers and the numbers will determine who gets called when at 1 p.m. based on the first come first serve rule. As 12 approaches all of those women who were to my left now transcended to the front door. The kept moving closer and closer to me on my left…now people were not behind me but next to be in a sense pushing me aside. I was ready to say I was first here so please get behind me. Instead the person in charge exits the door to pass out the numbers. She explains to me that I am not the first in line but rather the 15 hispanic women are the first ones to get served. What? She continues to say that the 15 women arrived at 8 a.m and have been waiting all this time. Did the person in charge document all 15 people to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were all 8 a.m. arrivals? She continued to state that I had to go behind all of these women.
Is this fair, appropriate or in line etiiquette? Did the person in charge formally know who arrived at 8 a.m. or did she determine this informally. One hispanic arrives for the 8 a.m. shift and then her 5 friends join her at 12 noon and get credit for arriving at 8 a.m.

The person in charge is hispanic as were the swarming around a bee hive hispanic women. There was not one Asian, African American or Caucasion other than myself.

Sounds to me like some off the cuff hispanic rule making. Unfortunately when I signed up for the program (having to show proof of income) no one explained this rule. Furthermore, no one explained that the organization offers clothing distribution, personal counseling and other services that I could benefit from.

Thoughts? Thank you

Joshua February 3, 2018 at 2:09 am

What about blocking clear pathways by forming life’s to the side of a convenience store counter- as opposed to forming them behind the path to the clear exit (in case an evacuation is necessary) for example: lining (queuing) up in the aisles (the latter makes more sense) opinions?

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