Franklin waiting in line in 2011 for the final Harry Potter film release.

Franklin Norton , Social Media Manager

It was Wednesday on campus, and that could only mean one thing: Chicken and Dumpling Day in the student center cafeteria. I’m calling it Dump Day, rather than Hump Day. You get the gist. Anyway, as it goes with Chicken and Dumpling Day, there was a line longer than normal, and although I was in somewhat of a pinch for time, I didn’t mind. Two of my friends stood in front of me, with a girl (let’s call her Debbi) standing in between us. My friends and I were having a personal conversation about my own life, to which Debbi started to giggle—game over, Deb, you’re a part of this now. I began to open up to Debbi, a perfect stranger, about personal matters, and then even inquired into her own, to which I prefaced: “You do realize you don’t have to respond to me at all.” She didn’t mind. I told her I would probably write about this encounter—so here it is, Debbi, a true man of my word.

I’m one of those strange people who actually enjoys standing and waiting in lines. I know that seems kind of ridiculous, but it’s true. I like people. I like to talk with them and learn about them. I guess my parents didn’t do a very good job at teaching me to not talk to strangers. Whatever. But there is something special about standing in line, something authentic. I think line people show more of themselves than they would otherwise. They are frustrated, in a hurry, impatient and just real. And then there’s me standing there smiling at them, which honestly probably makes them more frustrated, in a hurry and impatient. Again, I say: whatever.

But I don’t know—there’s just something special to me about strangers coming together in a line, all working toward a common goal, whether that be to buy a concert ticket, ride the highest roller coaster or even just to order chicken and dumplings. It is in those moments where strangers become our group, just for that moment in time. So, next time you’re in line, take a deep breath and know: being in line means you are not alone.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]