The old man pulls rank

I was in line* at McDonald’s for lunch today (yes, McDonald’s: I’d won free fries in their Monopoly contest and was cashing in my winnings) when I witnessed something rather amusing. There were a bunch of kids in line. And when I say kids I mean junior high-school aged kids who were on some sort of tour. They formed the bulk of the line. At the end was an old man and me. The old man looked to be around 75 or so. I stood there wondering just how long it would take to get my free fries and the old man must have been wondering the same thing because he pulled rank. He smiled politely at the kids and asked them gently if they minded very much if he could cut to the front of the line. Not even these rotten kids could resist the sweetness of and old man desperate for his caffeine fix. Within seconds he was ushered ahead 15 places (I counted) to the front of the line, given coffee and sent on his way.

I thought about pulling the same trick, but somehow, I didn’t see the same outcome for me. So I waited. Ten minutes. The fries were mostly disappointing.


*Is it “in line” or “on line”? There is a great debate as to which. Some say that one stands “on” a line, where as I tend to say “in” line, because a line is a queue and you don’t stand on a queue but in a queue. Not that it is relevant to the story.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.