Column reprinted from the Platte County Landmark

If you’ve ever been in the armed forces, bought groceries, or voted in a Presidential election, you’ve become very familiar with lines. Heck, if you’ve ever been to an amusement park, a really nice restaurant, or even a really crappy restaurant – you’ve waited in a line.

It’s something that I can’t stand, personally. I hate waiting in traffic. I can’t stand waiting more than five minutes at McDonald’s and I frankly don’t’ even like slow internet. I am completely spoiled with getting whatever I want when I want and if that doesn’t happen, then I go elsewhere.

That being said, I observed something over the weekend that left me wondering if there is any hope at all for humanity with regards to lines.

Let me set it up for you. I had been looking forward for weeks to seeing the new Star Trek movie. Being adverse to lines, I waited until the second weekend to watch it and I also bought tickets at the AMC on Barry so you get your own assigned seat – that way, there’s no line, or at least there’s no need for a line. (People still lined up, which I don’t understand. But I digress.)

AMC has a rewards program called Stubs. Basically, it’s a way to get $5 back for every $100 you spend and, in return, AMC gets your email address and gets to send you emails and whatever. It’s a decent trade off if you like to go to movies every now and again.

849So inside of AMC Stubs, there are two tiers. There’s a free tier – where you get that tracking, you get a coupon every once in awhile for free popcorn and AMC still gets your email. Then there’s a “Premier” tier – where you pay $20 a year and you get more coupons as well as you get $10 back for every $100 you spend. Being as how I have a teenage boy and all of us like movies, it’s a decent investment.

So we show up to the theater on Friday, tickets in hand and we’re ready to go get a soda, some popcorn and see Captain Kirk kill some bad guys. Friday night at the movies in the summer is a MESS. There are lines everywhere, and I mitigated as much as I could, but there was still one line remaining – the line for concessions. If I wanted my Mike N Ikes, I was going to have to wait in a line.

At AMC, you’ve got five stations. I’ve only ever seen four of them manned and four were manned on Friday. You had about 5 people in line at three of the four stations. Given the fact that these stations are manned by 17 year olds, I quickly calculated the best line to get in based on age of purchasers, whether they were overweight or looked hungry, and if they looked like they might take a lot of time ordering. This is what I call the KLWI – Kamler Line Wait Index. Of the three lines in front of me, I began to make my selection. But then… I saw it off to the right. A lighted sign that said: STUBS PREMIER CUSTOMERS ONLY. The line was marked with those fancy red velvet ropes. What’s interesting is that there were TWICE the number of people in this line.

Did they hand out hot dogs covered in diamonds? Do they let you meet a member of the Star Trek cast in this line? What prompted people to wait twice as long in this line as compared to the other three lines?

Turns out, nothing. There was nothing special about this line other than it was dedicated to Premier members, who, could have gotten the same perks and coupons in any of the other (shorter) lines. What they line goers did get is a sense of entitlement that they were waiting in a “special” line.

I ended up finding the shortest line (three people with a hyper efficient checkout person – 3 minute wait) while the “Premier” customers were still eight deep missing the previews.

I guess membership doesn’t always have its privileges.

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