Unless you live alone in the woods, waiting in line is a near-universal experience—though as any international tourist will find, the etiquette of doing so varies from place to place.
Whether you wait politely or wait in line (or “on line,” as New Yorkers insist on saying), how you wait and how you feel about waiting is more about perception than the actual time that elapses,
Not all waiting experiences are equally terrible, as anyone who’s waited in line alone before being joined by a friend can attest.
Waiting alone feels longer than waiting in a group, because you don’t have conversation to distract you. Other factors that can affect how long a wait feels include uncertainty about when the line will end, having no explanation for the wait.
Like when you hit traffic and can’t tell if it’s because of an accident or construction or just rush hour, and also when perceiving the line as unfair, such as when you see people who were in line behind you receive their food first.
Lines feel a lot worse when there’s some anxiety involved. The more uncertainties about the situation, the less secure you’ll feel about eventually getting to the front.
Restaurants are masters at putting people at ease while waiting for a table. There’s a check-in point where you can give the hostess your name, so you know the restaurant knows you’re there and will take care of you eventually.
You’ll get an estimated wait time. You can grab a menu to peruse, making the time feel productive. And often, there’s a bar where you can hang around before your table is ready, letting you distract yourself from the waiting experience.
Question: Have you ever waited in line for hours? If so, for what?