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Readers’ Choice: Standing in Line

The response to last week’s post showed that it really hit a nerve. Many of you mentioned standing in line as a problem too, and when that many of you mention it, it means it’s time to talk about it.

Standing in line is one of my many downfalls too. It was bad enough before my knee injury, when all I had was 3 healed spinal fractures with heavy nerve damage around the upper one. Oddly, my lower back pain improved a lot after the sacral fracture. It displaced slightly and my body is happier with the new layout. The upper fractures, though, seize up suddenly after a long wait in line. I call it “The Clamp,” and only prescription pain medicine will even touch the sides.

With the knee injury, my meniscus gets irritated and swells after standing too long. It takes days to recover from one half-hour standing session. With the variety of physical problems that would make lining up a challenge, it’s a wonder anyone over 30 can do it.

I often leave coffee shops and other places where the line is too long to be worth it. I once set a basket of merchandise down and left REI during their Labor Day sale and I haven’t tried to go back on a holiday sale weekend.

The worst lines for me are at the border. I live near the Canadian border and go back and forth a few times a month to visit friends or get my favorite Canadian brands that I can’t get here. I have a Nexus card (a special expedited border pass that you get by passing a background check and interview, and, of course, paying) and that lets me bypass most lines. I like to travel with my bike on the train, though, and a Nexus card cuts no ice at the Amtrak station. You wait in the same line as everyone else.

Last summer I took the Bolt Bus to Vancouver. That was a great way to go, but we had get off the bus to go through Customs at the border. We filed into a building where we waited in line, holding our bags (my loaded panniers, one with a shoulder strap and one in hand). My bike was left on the bus so there was no making Silver do all the work. That increased my pain enough to affect my enjoyment of the weekend. I wanted to ask to use a cart or cut the line, but it’s embarrassing to ask that when you’re wearing cycling gear and look more fit than some older people in the same line.

At the border station going back in to the US, if I ride my bike across, I have to report to the same building where the people go who are having their cars inspected. There are 3 colors of card to carry in line, but only 2 lines. The people with red slips who have problems with their documents have one line; bicyclists and pedestrians (orange), and the poor schmucks who pulled random car inspections (yellow) are in the other. There is no place to sit down for anyone, no accommodations of any kind. If you don’t have a wheelchair, you’re standing. You would think the Nexus card would let me go ahead of the car inspections, but it doesn’t. Consequently, I try to avoid riding across, even though it’s convenient to ride from the White Rock transit center downhill to the border, then scoot over to the Blaine Cost Cutter grocery store to catch a bus home.

A good part of my day planning involves avoiding lines. I even time my grocery shopping for off-peak hours and avoid the discount store that’s always packed. It’s worth it to me to pay a little more to know I’ll never wait behind more than 3 people.

You all clearly wanted to talk about standing in line. Tell me about your experience! Do you have any good line hacks to share?

Readers’ Choice: Standing in Line

Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.

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APA Reference
, . (2018). Readers’ Choice: Standing in Line. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 20 Aug 2018
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