Your bond with a linemate is the most tenuous of all awkward bonds. It's flimsier than the one with that kid on a plane or a cabbie, and it's less deserving of acknowledgement. You have one thing in common, and it's the fact that you're waiting together. You'd have as much in common with a cellmate at county jail or another guy waiting for a handy from the same rub-and-tug attendant -- but at least in both of those circumstances, you could sit down.
The line talker is undeserving of sympathy, or even basic human decency, for one reason above all else: Unlike a barber or a cabbie or the dentist or literally everyone else who will start chatting about 100 terrible things you couldn't give a shit about, the line guy is going to inevitably comment on how long the line is. Maybe he'll lean in too close to your personal space from behind, the vague smell of sweat and onions on him, and chuckle a little as he stammers out a "Is this thing ever going to move?" or any other brain-shatteringly unnecessary observation about the state of the line. To which you can only reply by staring at him in abject horror as your brain tries to calculate the number of ways you don't give a shit to acknowledge that yes, obviously the line is long and slow. You're both standing in basically the same goddamn place in the line; why would anyone need to point this out to the person ahead of them who's obviously been waiting just slightly longer?
Unless they want your spot because it's like, an emergency.
Don't strangle the line chatterer, as is your first impulse. Don't swear or punch or lift them like a great ape hurling a subordinate from the top of a hill to a pit of spikes and crocodiles you may have waiting somewhere below. Simply agree -- a long, slow "yes," and then return your gaze forward. This is all you can do. It's all you need to do with any of these awkward types. Because if we all do this, soon the awkward tide will turn, and those of us who let out a long, terrible "yes" before turning away will be so feared by the line talkers, the dentists, the barbers, even small children, that no one will ever talk in an awkward, unnecessary situation ever again.
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