DEAR AMY: I recently returned from a trip. At the airport, the gate agent asked us to start lining up, since the plane had been delayed twice and he didn’t want to delay us further. We started to form the lines he indicated by what was on our boarding passes. The line I was in reached about 50 people long and went along the back wall. We had been in line for several minutes when a young woman came up and started speaking to the older couple in front of me. I assumed she was with them. I never imagined she was shoving her way into the line. However, the couple were called to their seats in first class, yet she remained behind and immediately “cut” in line ahead of me. I started to tell this cutter she should go to the end of the line, but she touched my arm, started to laugh as if I’d just said something funny, and asked me if I was enjoying the book I held. I was taken aback and didn’t reply. The gate agent then motioned her forward, and she boarded ahead of me. Her seat wasn’t even in my section! Is there a way I could have politely told this woman that cutting in line isn’t the thing to do? Did I condone bad behavior and manners by not saying anything?
DEAR PATIENT: Researching your question, I learned that the majority of airlines board using a block system, even though this is the least efficient way to board a plane. A man named Jason Steffen, of the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics, studied various methods and determined boarding in alternating rows is fastest. After that, random boarding is still faster than block boarding. (I’m still a little confused about why an astrophysicist would study airplane boarding, but it is obviously a frustration that reduces all of us to rubble.)
You got played by a master. You were obviously stunned by her brazen behavior. You weren’t prepared to call her out (nor were other passengers). If you hadn’t been so taken aback, you could have simply said, “Hey, we’ve all be waiting patiently. Please don’t cut the line.” Other passengers would have cheered you in celebration.
DEAR AMY: I agreed to loan my oldest sister my dining room table a few years back, after she saw it in my parents’ basement. I said she could use it until I moved into a bigger place. When I went to retrieve the table, I saw that its legs were completely beat up. I tried to control my facial expression, but she noticed and asked, “Are you upset about that?” Because it was the holiday season and I knew she was frazzled already, I told her we’d talk about it after the holidays. I’m shocked she asked me if I was upset in a genuinely surprised tone. It’s not about the table; it’s about the fact that I loaned her something of mine that she didn’t take care of. Nor has she offered to replace it. I have learned my lesson to never loan her anything of value or meaning, but how do I deal with this table now?
DEAR UPSET: Using the holidays as a blanket excuse for not telling your sister the truth is a passive-aggressive dodge. The answer to the question, “Are you upset about that?” should have been, “Yes, I am.”
Loaning people items you love is a tricky transaction. If you had left the table in your parents’ basement, it might have been damaged through flooding or another kind of accident. My point is that it was not in your possession for several years, and . . . stuff happens.
You have learned something important about your sister. Be honest with her about how you feel about it, see if you can have it repaired and ask her if she would be willing to bear the cost. Please don’t let a damaged table damage your relationship. File this under “lesson learned,” and don’t loan her anything in the future.
DEAR AMY: Another response to the issue raised by “From We to I,” who wanted her guy to stop referring to his ex-wife. I had the same problem with my second husband. Whenever he said, “We went to Hawaii,” I’d say, “We did? I don’t remember that.” We laughed about it, and it didn’t take long before he began to say, “My ex and I,” or use her name.
DEAR JEANNE: Smart.