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Life Lessons at the Chick-fil-a

March 12, 2007

Saturday, the wife and I decided to run out for lunch at the local Chick-fil-a.   The parking lot was full and we parked on a fringe and snaked our way through the rows of cars.  In so doing, we crossed through an empty parking place and were nearly run down by a woman who wheeled her SUV into the parking place, seemingly indifferent to our presence.   To my amazement, she continued into the spot as we pressed against the neighboring car, rather than waiting on us to vacate.   I shook my head and continued inside, where we found ourselves in the midst of an urban zoo.  There were several children’s birthday parties in progress and multiple ill governed lines leading away from several cash registers.   We chose a line and began the wait.  Shortly the door opened and the woman from the SUV entered, chose another line and continued her cell phone conversation that must have been in progress for some time.   Our line didn’t appear to be moving, and we noticed significant progress on the other lines.  We moved to the back of one of the other lines and people behind us did as well.   There was much hustling and bustling behind the counter as too many employees all tried to vie for their slot at the  kitchen pass through window, or the ice cream machine.  Our frustration mounted as the line we selected ground to another halt due to someone ordering a whole tray full of ice cream Sundays for one of the parties.   As we watched, the people who had been behind us in the first line, had now made it to the counter.   Amazingly, the SUV – cell phone woman  had not only received her food but  was eating it.   We were the next to last to be served, and as we finally got our food, the SUV woman had finished and was leaving.

For a moment, I felt displaced by society, displaced in my right as a pedestrian, displaced in my belief in being served in a first in, first out manner.   Then, I reflected on the choices that I  had made, and the responsibility that I shared in determining how things worked out.  I chose my path through the parking lot.  I chose the line,  and really had no way to know who was going to order what, in which line.  It could just as well have worked to my advantage, and I would have felt smugly confident in my ability to size things up and make the prudent choice. 

This pattern is replicated elsewhere.   How many of you have been stuck in a traffic jamb on a multi-lane freeway, where every lane except yours seems to be making progress?  If you change lanes, the one you just left begins to move, and the one you enter grinds to a halt.   Perhaps a lot of this is driven by our “me first” society.    People shifting from one place to the next creates opportunity for advancement.   However trying to discern where to move and when for progress can be a challenging proposition.

Perhaps these observations are a kind of metaphor for how we live our lives?     

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2007 10:59 am

    The line changing reminds me of the scene in “Office Space” where, our hero, on his commute in to work is stuck in traffic. Like many of us he sees the line of cars next to him is crawling faster than the line he is stuck in. A gap opens and he changes lines only to find the line he left is now moving forward. Changing back he finds his line is again at a stands still while the line he left is moving.

    A couple of years ago I came across this link on traffic dynamics –

  2. sweetlybroken permalink
    March 13, 2007 1:14 pm

    You are brilliant. My husband and I recently conducted a test. He did the “bounce from one line to the other” and I stood in my original line. Ironic, we both reached the front of our lines at the same time, then he got the wrong food. Ya just never know!

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