Elliot Swan is a freelance web and graphic designer as well as a self-proclaimed photographer who loves ranting about design, standards, and the web in general. But that's not what this site is for. No, he's got another site for that. What's this then? Why, let me introduce you to...

Accidental Procrastination | Things I didn't mean to think about when I should've been working.

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My Personal Linear Hell

July 13, 2007

I personally believe that hell has a very long line leading to it. You wait. And wait, and wait some more until you wish you could just get there already. Eventually, you realize that you’ve been there the whole time.

Standing in line is like being in bad traffic while chairless and the radio is forever stuck on some reject pop station where the DJ feels the need to interrupt every song with wannabe raps consisting of “Matt, we need a cleanup on isle five. Matt, cleanup on isle five please.”

After about six of these reminders, you’re tempted to go check out isle five. You’re tempted to go check out the mess, to evaluate it, to see exactly what needs to be done. Then when you see an employee approach you greet this poor soul with a knowledgeable, “Hi Matt, I’d recommend immediate mopping followed by extensive bleach. Don’t forget the wet floor sign. Have a nice day.”

But alas, that would require losing one’s spot in line. Everybody’s worried about getting a “good spot.” You take your rounds across the stretching expansion of checkouts, gauging the estimated length of line, speed of cashier, and magazine selection. When one is about to stand in line for a long length of time, these things are important to know ahead of time.

Now once you have that good spot, the trouble is then keeping it. Eventually you run out of magazines, so you start assessing your surroundings. You first take a look at your fellow prisoners, making some vague assumptions as to their character. Next you take a look at their future purchases, weighing these results against your previous assumptions. The skinny kid with all the dairy products is obviously re-stocking after his king-sized roommate, and the body-builder reading People‘s coverage of Paris Hilton’s jail time is no doubt getting snacks for his late night security gig. The lady reading The Enquirer is simply an idiot.

Once you are through with this, boredom hits. As you look into the neighboring lines, you realize that you picked the wrong good spot–if you had been in the other line you would’ve been long gone by now. You consider switching lines, but you’re worried that you might make the wrong choice again. Besides, you’d have to start this whole process all over again, and you’d lose your current not-quite-as-good spot.

After several hours (while your watch may not backup this fact, it is my personal belief that time stops while you are in line), you arrive at the front. With much glee, you turn a full 180 and look into the eyes of each helpless human being still waiting behind you. An innocent smile appears across your lips as you take a look at your cashier’s computer to see what operating system they are using. It appears to still be running DOS.

“Sorry for the delay, thanks for waiting. Paper or plastic?”

Boy, am I glad you asked.

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