Social Question

Kraigmo's avatar

Why do some people at fast food restaurants fail to form a line, and just hover around far back?

Asked by Kraigmo (7408 points ) February 9th, 2011

Sometimes I’ll go into McDonald’s to get my coffee, and I’ll walk straight up behind the guy whose ordering. Then I realize there’s a bunch of dummies in the back who are also waiting, but haven’t ordered yet. (They’re waiting in the same area as the people who’ve already ordered).

Why didn’t they form a line? Does this seem to happen more often now?

And is it proper… perhaps even good… to cut right in front of these people for behaving illogically? Almost always, they don’t say anything…

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16 Answers

faye's avatar

I would look at them to see if someone is going to step up, give it a second, then it’s me.

YARNLADY's avatar

On the rare occasions that I go into a fast food place, I have no idea what to order, so I hang around the back reading the menu. I often nod people ahead when they meet my eye to see if I am ready to order yet.

peridot's avatar

@YARNLADY—ditto. I’d hate to be that person who holds up the line forever while trying to decide which burger is going to tickle my taste buds today. Those people are way bigger jackalopes than the ones hanging back… IMO, the latter group is being considerate.

Kraigmo's avatar

@YARNLADY and @peridot , that is a very good point. If they don’t know what they’re ordering, then they are doing the right thing.

I see this occur so often now, though, and I always thought most people sort of knew what was there. If they’re just trying to figure out the menu, then they are doing the right thing, and not “dummies” at all. But really… at my McDonald’s, I don’t see them staring at the menu. I see them staring ahead or to the side.

But I think you both brought up something very pertinent.

And so my Question must evolve into

Why do some people at fast food restaurants fail to form a line, and just hover around far back, even if they already know what they want?

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

…..Maybe they’re just shy?.....Or being polite?....

mammal's avatar

if you frequent the pig trough you get what your deserve, in my opinion. It is a culinary graveyard.

YARNLADY's avatar

The restaurant has not made proper arrangements for lining up, using line guides.

ucme's avatar

Vulture mentality maybe. Hovering around the rotting carcass that is a big mac ;¬}

BarnacleBill's avatar

I don’t frequent fast food places very often, however, the expectation is that in order to order, you must queue up. If you don’t queue up, then you’re not ready to order, and others should go ahead of you. It sounds like some sort of ego “I don’t do lines” macho kind of thing.

john65pennington's avatar

Some people come into the restaurant with their food order ready to be told. Some people come into the restaurant and do not have a clue what they would like to eat. This is the difference. We always ask if the person is in line and most give us the go ahead, while they still are undecided. If you always ask, it saves a lot of problems.

Seaofclouds's avatar

All the times I’ve stood in the back before ordering have been for one of these two reasons:

1. I don’t know what I want yet. I might not necessarily stare at the menu though. I may just be thinking to myself, do I want a burger, chicken, or salad.
2. I’m waiting for someone else to join me. This could be because the other people haven’t gotten there yet or perhaps they had to go to the bathroom before ordering.

Kardamom's avatar

That drives me crazy too. I have been screamed at for stepping up behind the person at the counter because there was a random bunch of people milling around at the back. No line, no appearance of attempting to order or get behind the person at the counter. That is ususually the place where people stand after they’ve placed their order and are waiting for their food.

I’ve also been rudely told, “Yeah, no shit I’m in line!” When I have asked if so and so is in line, even though they too are milling around in the back.

The stores should have stanchions or lines painted on the floor to deal with these dummies, but until then the only hope you have is to look at the crowd milling around in the back and ask them all, “Where’s the end of the line to order?” If you’re lucky someone will answer and not sneer at you.

When I’m the person milling around at the back and I see someone come in, I tell them that I’m not in line and for them to go ahead.

downtide's avatar

I’ve noticed a growing trend for people here to start queuing in one line even if there is more than one member of staff serving. Then the person at the front goes to whoever is available first. It looks disorganised but it isn’t really. And it’s infinitely less annoying than being stuck in a queue that’s moving slower than the one next to you.

Kardamom's avatar

@downtide Yes, I’ve noticed that trend too and it seems to work really well, as long as there is an actual spot where the “first person” knows where to stand and everybody realizes that they have to get in line behind that person. But I do like that kind of line better.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I’ve noticed this behavior myself. It’s not limited to fast food establishments; people in convenience stores sometimes do the same thing.

I kind of think it’s a mild form of rebellion. Some people, for whatever reason, resist the idea of forming lines!

It’s a curious thing to observe. Even when lines are created, it’s hardly ever straight. It’ll meander off into…not a line…lol.

The oddest thing I’ve seen occurs on my job. The ATM machine, placed to the rear of an escalator, allows considerable space to form a line without blocking the hall. Opposite the ATM machine are 2 elevator doors and the building exit.

Guess where the line forms?

That’s right…in front of the elevators opposite the ATM machine. The line not only blocks access to the elevators, but is formed in such a way that whoever uses the machine has no privacy. Everyone has a clear view of the transactions of people that precede them.

I guess some things will never be explained…!

BarnacleBill's avatar

I attended a gallery talk on portrait photos the photographer took in Tamale, Ghana. She mentioned that the concept of queueing up for anything is foreign there; when the bus arrives, people swarm it; getting in line is a European practice. People must have learning queueing in some manner; perhaps that point of instruction is gone, and there is some shift in what’s sociologically normative going on?

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