By Will E. Sanders
I’ve done some pretty uncouth things in my day, but cutting in line at a funeral, even by my standards, pretty much takes the cake. We’ve all fallen victim to someone cutting in front of us while in line. Now, imagine you’re at a funeral, patiently waiting like everyone else and up comes me. And I cut you!
Oh, sure, it was purely unintentional, but that hardly justifies it. I think you’ll find cutting is universally unacceptable behavior. No matter where you travel in the world, the core social structure of line-cutting is strictly adhered to and its punishment carefully administered. During the Middle Ages, line-cutting would get a fellow hung, drawn and quartered — probably.
However, line-cutting dates back much further than that. When Noah rounded up two of every animal and lined them up to board the ark, the dinosaurs — because they were such prima donnas — tried cutting in line. As punishment, Noah killed all of them, and that’s what really happened to the dinosaurs. So there, I’ve just settled the age-old debate: God is real, and science is a complete waste of time.
Personally, I think all the rage about this whole immigration thing relates to cutting specifically — we’re not mad you’re coming here illegally; you’re cutting ahead of others who are patiently waiting their turn to be citizens.
And it makes no matter where someone cuts, either. It’s insulting regardless of the time or location, but one could argue that doing so at a funeral is when the offense is at its highest degree of severity. I don’t think I need to write Dear Abby about this, do I? I think it can be agreed between all of us that cutting in line, especially at a funeral, is generally frowned upon behavior.
The funeral in question was for my uncle Teeny, who despite his name wasn’t tiny. Nobody ever called Teeny by his actual name, and I doubt many knew what it even meant or how he became “Teeny” to begin with.
Once I arrived at the funeral, I noticed some people mingling near the guest book, which I signed and then got in (what I thought was the back of) the line.
An older woman behind me grumbled, but I thought nothing of it. Had I turned around, I would have noticed that this woman was my co-worker Rob’s mother, but I’ll get to that later.
Teeny was one of my favorite uncles, hands down — an interesting choice of words since Teeny only had half of a thumb. Rumors abound regarding how he lost it, but over the years, I consistently heard three stories.
Teeny sucked his thumb a lot when he was a child, and then one day POP! it came off in his mouth like a faulty lollipop. At some point, an alligator bit his thumb in half — “So I bit the alligator back,” Teeny always told me. Anyway, my personal favorite, despite errors in American history: “The Cherokee took it from me during the Indian wars.”
In actuality, Teeny (real name Robert A. Shroyer), tragically lost it as a kid while his friends were playing with a hatchet. Let this serve (or is that sever?) as a message to all the children out there to never play with crude weaponry.
Even in his casket, Teeny was still smiling at the world. As I walked by, I half expected Teeny to wink at me or pop his dentures out like he always did. One thing’s for sure, somewhere in heaven at this very moment uncle Teeny is popping his dentures out for somebody.
After that, I got in my car and headed home, totally unaware that I had cut in front of Rob’s mother, who apparently knew my uncle. The next day, Rob brought this to my attention at work. Suffice it to say, I was mortified to death.
I’m forced to wonder how many times in my day-to-day life I exhibit unsavory actions against the social decorum without realizing it or having it brought to my attention somehow by a close associate.
In my defense, however, let me say this: I was blood and Rob’s mother was not. I think blood should grant cutting privileges for the purposes of funerals, and weddings for that matter. And who knows, maybe someday that philosophy will be the socially acceptable rule of thumb.