Not My Desk

Seriously, What Are You Doing Up There?

I ask the above question with no real sarcasm or snark, but out of simple curiosity. And perhaps a bit of impotent rage.

Lately I’ve been lucky about waiting in lines: at the bank, at the store, at the bail bondsman, and all the usual places lines form. I keep arriving at places to get in line and there’s only one person in front of me, which seems to indicate that my wait will be the briefest it could be besides having no wait at all. There’s only one person between me and doing the thing I am waiting to do. And what could take one person very long to do anything?

But these waits always turn out to be an eternity, and I don’t know why. For example:

1) At the ATM.

There’s one person using the ATM when I arrive. Using an ATM shouldn’t take long, and I’m mentally subtracting the time they’ve already been there before I show up. But the person has either never seen an ATM before and is confused by all the buttons and options or is doing some complicated stock trading or maybe hacking into the CIA mainframe or something that requires at least 7,943 different button presses, with irritatingly long, confused pauses between each.

Not to mention all the fake-outs, when the thing beeps and their card pops out and I figure it’s my turn. But the person pops the same card right back in and goes back to pushing buttons like they’re on the deck of the Starship Enterprise during a war with the Klingons.

And then when they really are done and the card pops out and they get their receipt (which seems like it should be 147 feet long from all the dozens of transactions they had to complete in order to withdraw their $40) they stand there scrutinizing it like it’s a new Dead Sea scroll without actually moving away from the machine so I can use it.

Even when I make a deposit and a withdrawal from the ATM it takes me maybe two minutes. I don’t know what these people are doing up there.

2) The drive-thru

Okay, so maybe people have more complicated meal selections than I do. But once you’re done at the speaker and you drive up to pay and then drive further up to get your food, you should be about done with the complicated, time-consuming stuff.

But there I sit peering in growing confusion through my windshield as the employee passes you a bag of food and you accept it and say something. And then they say something. And then you say something. And then they pass you a drink and a straw. And then you say something and they say something and you pass the drink back and they pass you another bag and you pass the first bag back and they say something and you say something and then they lean out the window and rest on their forearms because they’re about to say something that will last a good four minutes and you say something and they pass you a bag and you pass them some more money and then the drink goes back in and two more bags come out and you say something and they pass you some money and you pass them a receipt and you both look at it and then more things are said and then I turn off my engine and sigh loudly as if that will clearly send the message that I am annoyed.

I do not know what you are doing up there, seriously.

3) The break-room sink

Do you know this guy? At work? The guy who washes out his coffee cup for like ten solid minutes? And you need to get to the sink to dump out your coffee so you can get new coffee in your cup and go back to staring at the internet until it’s time to go home?

Washing a small cup should not take the better part of an hour, but the guy I’m waiting behind appears to be trying to scrub it down until it no longer physically exists. And the rinsing process he’s doing uses more water than an industrial washing machine. I don’t know where he thinks his coffee cup has been since he used it last but it’s apparently filthy. Maybe it’s been sitting in a toilet in a malaria testing lab on the planet Germulon in the Bronchitis Nebula. It’s not even a cup anymore if you scrub all the ceramic out of it, guy.

4) The airplane bathroom

There must be a shower hidden somewhere in those tiny bathrooms, because seriously, people go in and they don’t come out for ages. And you have to stand in the aisle waiting, dodging drink carts, attempting to stand so your butt is not in someone’s face, and trying not to be judgmental about all the Dan Brown books the other passengers are reading. This comes after an hour of sitting in your seat, craning your neck around making sure there’s no line, and then having to wake up the guy sleeping next to you so you can get into the aisle. He will of course be fast asleep upon your return.

5) The toll booth.

Okay, this time I know what you’re doing up there. You’re asking for directions. To the Bronchitis Nebula. That’s the only way it could take this long.


  1. I think the drive-through has happened to me the most. They all of a sudden decide to change their order from a meal fitting of two people to a meal fitting of forty people, each with a different allergy.

  2. Drivethru seconded. These people have the most complicated fucking orders in the world. My order takes 15 seconds and I’m already paying. The world just hates efficient people, or those who have to get somewhere.

  3. ATM? I’ll do you one better. I got to the ATM bank where there were two machines and both were taken when I arrived. I was next in line. Thrilled that there were two people battling to get out of my way first.
    ….Except, they were participating in some game that started right before I got there. The game was “Let’s see who can take longer”. With all the beeping I kept thinking I was next. 7 minutes later I decided that they either don’t speak any of the possible language choices, or they managed to connect to their Facebook pages from the ATM.

  4. OMG you’re 100% right about all of these. I think this ALL the time in a lot of situations. There are so many ever-day things that take literally seconds but for some reason I constantly find the people who take hours to perform these tasks.

    well written. I shall subscribe to your RSS until I get bored.

  5. I second the airplane lav and add the airline check in. I takes me about 20 seconds to get a boarding pass. Less if I deal with an actual person. Most people must have just decided they are in the neighborhood a would like arrange travel to some remote jungle village via seven international layovers using some frequent flier miles, a refund of a ticket they found somewhere, and a money order.

  6. @ the atm: I’m paying bills, depositing, withdrawing, transfering and every bank has a different menu. That’s why it takes so long.
    @ the sink: I’m warming up my mug with hot water before I pour my coffee. That’s why it takes so long.
    @ the airplane washroom: I’m having sex/masturbating. That’s why it takes so long.
    PS I don’t give a fuck how long the next guy has to wait, I’m living for me, not others.

  7. You totally missed the drinking fountain. I was at an amusement park and some mom of seven or eight kids, with a fanny pack, was right in front of me and I think she must’ve filled up six bottles of water.

  8. I am an ex-heroin addict on methadone (because it’s simply a far more manageable, less harmful addiction, and the best shot at life for me.) At any rate, we all line up like cattle at the clinic window each morning, 7 days a week all year with scattered holidays when we can drink our juice at home and not bother with the whole annoyance. Those days are way more cool than they should be registering as, because I’m allergic to queue activities, all kinds, always was and likely always shall be. Unless the book I am reading in line is intriguing enough to knock my mind out of the mundane rite of wait, nudge forward one step, wait, repeat for 10 to 100 minutes depending on crowdedness…IT DRIVES ME APE. There’s always some idiot who has to stand there yapping to the dosing nurses as if they were bartenders. The women that spin out long convos about their kids are the worst: the personnel try to be affable and thus be registering as a positive treatment influence…but they seem to forget what the people behind her are experiencing this as: stuff slowing down the whole dose, drink and leave process and making us stand around shifting weight from leg to leg and smelling the awful BO of the inevitable less-committed people in the program who come in drunk and unshowered for a week.

    When I finish dosing half my relaxation is coming from getting out of standing in line I swear…but I am thankful for the treatment I’m getting at all. Don’t think I’m complaining TOO much…

    Off heroin since ’93,

  9. I peed myself a little reading this. Awesome!

  10. So now you’re prolonging it even further by reliving it all? Geez.

  11. the novel of Dan Brown are all great works, i specially love Angels and Demons “”

  12. I have a friend who picks up guys at ATM’s so that’s what takes her so long to complete a transaction. (I thought I was alone in judging Dan Brown readers… it’s nice to know. I have not read Stieg Larsson but I’m starting to twitch when I see the all too familiar covers litering the London Tube Network.)

  13. I wonder if this is some sort of bizarre thing like germ warfare… like terrorists have unloosed a bug that makes people take for freakin’ EVER to accomplish simple tasks. So half of us will die of frustrated boredom and the other half will die trying . . . .

  14. Just a sidenote: I know the Sink Guy. Sink Guy would also come straight out of the restroom and WASH HIS FACE with the Dawn liquid. Twice. Then rinse his mouth. Then spit. Thanks, Sink Guy!!

  15. Yep… it’s the drive thru for me… Always someone in my line trying to cash a check from the the “Bank of Pluto” … as I watch the cars in the other lines pull pat me….

  16. Great blog and thanks for the ideas. You gave me ambitionto write another blog post tonight.your really good at what you do!

  17. I had to tell my husband about your blog and read the ATM Rant to him because you are Rant Clones. I have been laughing for a bout 10 minutes now. Great stuff.

  18. Another is Starbucks. (And, sorry, I am “English Second Language Person”).
    My order is always very simple. “Non fat, tall latte, thank you.” I have my SB card ready to pay, or some change in my hands, counted already.
    However, there are ALWAYS some women that turn placing their order into some amazing adventure of the day, or perhaps a year. Or buying a diamond ring, adventure worth a trip to Alaska. I don’t know.

    There is “non fat, with extra sugar, no cinamon, but coc powder, or caramel, and extra cream, and double shot of whoknowswhat, and double cream of whip. cream – but with no sugar in it” and it goes on and on. In betweeeeeeen they keep asking HOW does it taste, it the sales person likes it like that, etc. It’s a performance, it’s a show, it’s the major event of the day.
    And then. They do NOT have money ready, they start running through their handbags, looking for dimes and pennies, in this pocket, in that pocket, one more cent, one more penny. Nightmare.

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