The line to access and purchase Mary Roach’s books was a hearty length, but the line was moving quickly. A man and his wife stood in opposite lines, chattering with each other and subconsciously having a race to see who got to the table first. As soon as she proved victorious, he moved from his spot in line to join her, abdicating his spot in line and, at the same time, dignifying and validating his being a nuisance and filler, preventing the person behind him from advancing quickly.
As timing should have it: Upon joining his wife, the person behind him left their spot in the same instance, leaving the other space completely vacant. I took the opportunity to remove myself away from the indecisive couple to purchase a copy of Spook, a book which has stared at me in the face at book stores for a decade now; the two mirrors on the front cover have watched every time my feet have stopped, every time my legs moved me past.
The line to actually meet Roach, the journalist and author, a congenitally curious person whose determination is an eternal burning flame, was fair. It wasn’t exaggeratedly long, but it definitely wasn’t offensively short. The book carriers, including the duplicitous couple again in front of me, didn’t mind up until a point.
If a person is getting any material possession signed, it’s safe to say they may have an interest in exchanging a few words with said person of note. There are unspoken ethics to abide by. If standing in line, especially if situated toward the front to middle, it’s important to be cognizant of other people also waiting. Everyone in the latter part of the line don’t get a pass to take their time either, but it’s simply important to keep the line moving. One to three minutes of conversation is fine, five is pushing it and seven or more — designated by the majority of people not interviewed — is “fucking rude.”
The two students were readily coming up on the three minute mark. They, including Roach, were expressing all the signs of having a good time, including smiling and laughing, and a picture being taken was a telltale sign. Clearly, they are fans.
The line cutting gentleman consoled his now-deemed snobbish wife after she shot her forked tongue words at the students and their elation four people away from them. The third wheel with them, who appeared from the blue, sped off while the gremlin bid his master’s duty.
The man then walked up behind the female student and practically put his chin on her shoulder, propping up his head to utter the heavy and abrupt quip. She looked at him out of her peripheral, similar to Sigourney Weaver to an alien.
Meanwhile, I was eyeballing a blender: a potential line cutter who walks up and moves with the pace of people, walks with the line while performing another distracting task (reading, playing with their phone, eating something, etc.) and then squeezes into a spot as if they were standing there all along. Their obtrusiveness is known in the particular moment when they blatantly cut in front of you.
As soon as the husband and his wife went arrived at the table, they handed over their shared book and didn’t say anything, but instead stood there awkwardly. He looked at his wife while she looked at the author’s hand.
Well then, I muttered lightly. As the couple’s split second table departure distracted me. The blender saw her opportunity and cut in line.