Penny for Your Thoughts: What People Think Waiting in Line
People have to wait in a lot of lines these days.
There’s no sugar coating it: 2020 has been an intense year.
People have a lot on their minds. If they aren’t thinking while sitting at home, then they’re probably thinking while standing in a line somewhere. At the grocery store. The doctor’s office. The voting booth. At their favorite pre-pandemic brunch spot (which used to be a hidden gem but now it’s slammed every weekend because #limitedseating). You get the idea. People have to wait in a lot of lines these days.
We’re experts on the psychology of lines. That’s a key reason why QuikLine is so effective. But the psychology of the people who wait in lines? That’s a little different. And endless. And intriguing.
So, whenever we found ourselves waiting in lines over the past few weeks, we politely turned to the person next to us (physically distanced, of course) and asked “Penny for your thoughts?”
It was weird, no doubt. We awkwardly explained this blog idea, which drew varying reactions, but everyone responded. What were these strangers thinking about before we butted in? What was on their mind while they were just… waiting in a line?
“It’s weird that there are no caramel apples here.”
Here are some of the responses:
“I think I was thinking about if I needed anything else. Even though I know I got everything I needed.” – Kaylan, waiting at Trader Joe’s, 10/14/20
“Nothing. I think. I don’t really know. I think I was zoning out.” – Cecil, 7-Eleven, 10/15/20
“My nephew fell down a flight of stairs yesterday and busted his nose, so I was thinking about what I could do for him. He loves putt putt golf, but I don’t know if any of that is open right now?” – Pricilla, waiting at Starbucks, 10/15/20
“I always spend money on groceries, then I don’t want to make any of it, and I end up ordering Postmates instead.” – Josh, waiting at Sprouts, 10/17/20
“The only thing on my mind is that I don’t want to go to work today. I’m a waiter.” – Zobi, waiting at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 10/17/20
“I wish there was self-checkout. They have them but they’re all broken and I only have these two things. I could have been home by now.” – Nasir, waiting at CVS, 10/18/20
“I don’t really recall. I was probably wondering when I’ll be able to go places without a mask again.” – Heidi, waiting at Trader Joe’s, 10/21/20
“I don’t think I was thinking about anything in particular. I was just looking at the pizza, which doesn’t look very good.” – Brantley, waiting at 7-Eleven, 10/21/20
“It’s so funny you ask because I was just people watching! Probably wondering the same thing about you! Nobody talks to anyone else anymore. I don’t know if that’s the pandemic or if that’s how it always was, but I notice it more now.” – Colleen, waiting at Hamburger Mary’s, 10/24/20
“I want to say I was thinking about something profound, but I don’t think I was. The election has been on my mind nonstop. I was probably thinking about the future and being existential.” – Kelsey, waiting at Starbucks, 10/25/20
“It’s weird that there are no caramel apples here. I’m from Iowa and caramel apples are a quintessential fall thing, but maybe not on the West Coast. So now I have to make my own, which isn’t hard, but it won’t be as good. I don’t miss Midwest winters, but I do miss the food.” – Alison, waiting at Ralph’s, 10/25/20
“If I was thinking about anything at all, then I’m surprised I mustered that much today. But I can’t remember. That’s funny.” – Kendall, waiting at Sprouts, 10/28/20
“Well you caught me buying candy when there will be zero trick-or-treaters this year. I don’t know if that’s what I was thinking about but it’s a weird Halloween, right?” – Julianna, waiting at CVS, 10/31/20
“All I’m thinking about is getting in and out of here as fast as possible and hoping the country gets it right.” – Dani, waiting at early voting location, 11/01/20
Some people were considering aspects of the line itself…
This is a small sampling of the thoughts swirling around peoples’ minds lately. Some people were considering aspects of the line itself, while others were preoccupied with other events in their lives.
In today’s world of physical distancing, it’s easy to keep to yourself – but that shouldn’t stop you from getting to know someone else. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn!