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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

FIRSTERS; You Know Who You Are

These guys constantly amaze me. OK, they're not always guys, but whomever, the thing I hate about the folks that amaze is that they force me against my will to always get that anxious, burny feeling in my middle which urges me unrelentingly to "hurry up and do this thing before they do it first. Alas, I just never win. I know Im a neurotic whacko who should be able to rise above, but rising above Im not so good at. These people who get me so crazy I call the "Firsters" and where I'm concerned, they always win and I never do, mostly because I'm a born again (and again and again) pantywaist of the first water.

The Firsters who first come to mind are those morons idling behind you at a traffic light. You know who you are. You, the ones who have your meaty thumbs lightly but tensely pressed against your car horns while staring up hard at the red light. I hate to give you a compliment, but in fact your timing is just unbelievably incredible. I swear you have the eyesight of houseflies because I'm certain you can actually see that fraction of time when the red becomes green. In that millisecond, you eagerly ram down viciously with that thumb dont you, and detonate the horns you've had amplified to a skull splitting pitch at some illegal car shop. Come on, you know Im right.

What is the deal with those people, anyway? I mean even if their brains have only managed to develop to the dimensions of a goober pea, they must know that eventually, say within that one half second it takes to swivel the foot from brake to accelerator, we'll actually be moving our cars forward. Why do those over-anxious jerks do that? Does anyone know? I dont. Whats their hurry? Or as the cops who stopped you for speeding years ago used to say, Wheres the fire, Mack?

Car washers, in general, frequently raise that same feeling in me, and here's why. You know that routine when you're inching up to the place where you hand the guy the money, get the change, shut the window, and put the car into neutral? Well, the part I take issue with is when you start to close the window and there's suddenly this race to the death between you and Car Washer Guy to see if you can get your window shut before his soap-laden mop slaps across the glass. I've occasionally lost that race by a nanno-second, and am left looking at life through suds-colored glasses which causes despondency.

Go on a bus tour somewhere with a group of people and yes, again, that discomfiting sense of competition when certain members of that gathering, and again folks, you know who you are, begin subtly muscling up to the front of the line. Usually, they're feigning animated conversation, pretending they don't really know what they're doing, until oh my! surprise! they discover they're accidentally at the front of the line when all law-abiding people have queued up properly. Now they can get that window seat, just as theyd planned all along! And know what? They do! These people just always, always win. The very sight of queues anywhere causes acidy matter to commence bubbling beneath my sternum. Youd think Id get over that, right? Wrong. I dont. Want to know why? Because it just never ends. Not ever.

Here's another example; I spy a short grocery line at checkout point six and at the same instant, so does Lurch. Moving slowly toward the coveted site, Lurch and I deliberately avoid eye contact, gradually beginning a slow gallop toward that spot in the line we both fancy. One of us, however, like in the ancient and honorable game of Chicken, must veer away at the very last instant, forced to move on to checkout point seven or beyond.

I am chagrined to confess here that I am always veerer person. Lurch consistently wins because he's -- well, Lurch, and I am Wimp, hear me whimper.

And while on the subject of queues, again comes that nasty inner feeling when, after one has been standing for a life cycle in a long line to buy food, return a defective piece of merchandise, cash a check or go through a bomb detector, a voice is heard saying "Attention please! Another line is opening up over here." Instantly adopting stampede-mode, every single person headlongs it over to the next line, causing the exact same feelings of inner friction in my own personal inners Id experienced when the gang was impatiently waiting in the first line. In their haste, some of us, without being given a choice, have donated a swatch of our shin-skin which is left dangling like a gas station flag from the front of someone's viciously shoved shopping cart. Oh, blessed be that tuned-in soul who has the brains to say "I will take the next person in line over here, please." But then, who is the next person in line we ask ourselves. I am. That's who.

And don't you feel that same thing in your gut when (you presume) someone is holding that multi-tonned glass door for you and you smile with warm appreciation and attempt to walk briskly, and he lets it slam the instant you get to it, and it scrapes hard against some part of you that sticks out?

Remember the kid in school whose hand always shot in the air long before the teacher had finished requesting a volunteer to wash the guinea pig cages? That fink Firster never gave any of the rest of us a fair chance at sucking up. You know exactly what his designation was throughout each of his academic years, don't you? Sure you do. Two words; first began with a B. Second with an N. In todays vernacular, the designation would be a little more biological, but no less apt.

Maybe I should stop clenching about all of this, and just do what all Firsters do with such aplomb; be pushy, obnoxious, confrontational and aggressive. I'd always get a window seat, get through the metal detectors before the plane is airborne, get into the checkout line of my choice, and I'd certainly have gotten a lot more A's in all my school years. Oh well.


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