This is how it would work in the former Soviet Union, where I spent the first part of my childhood.
You’d be walking along with your grownup, your mother or father or grandmother or grandfather, and suddenly there would be a line of people snaking up ahead.
And this was good.
Your mother or father or grandfather or grandmother would lead you to the line and the two of you would stand in it. At some point you’d ask what the line was for. They weren’t breadlines. They weren’t just breadlines. They were everythinglines.
You may get conflicting reports. Clementines. Or milk. Or shoes. Sometimes bread. It didn’t matter. You needed it. And if you didn’t need it yourself; for example, if they didn’t have your shoe size, you bought it anyway, because you were sure to know someone who could use that specific size shoe. Because everyone needed something.
Sometimes, while already on line, you’d notice a competing line. At that moment, your grownup would make a decision to leave you in the first line while going to stand in the second line. And while you are standing in that first line, you get really bored (because you are seven and also because you are standing in a freaking line) but there is no one to complain to, so you’ll stand in line and hope that your grownup comes back, having made some kind of save-my-spot kind of deal with the people in the second line, before you reach the front of the line because you have no idea what to do once you get to the front and also, by the way, have no money. In 1970s Leningrad, you didn’t get allowance.
A few years later you will emigrate from the Soviet Union.
You will come to America.
You will shop in American supermarkets and order food online for next-day delivery in refrigerated containers. You will order shoes online for convenient delivery with free shipping on returns.
You will refuse to go to the newest restaurants that the reviewers boast are so popular that there are lines of people waiting to get in.
You will not camp out for concert tickets although it is considered a rite of passage. You’d passed this particular passage years ago. Before it was in vogue.
You will avoid lines, because although you have no memory of being hungry, that is what the lines represent to you. Hunger and need and desperation and time being less valuable than food.
And on Thanksgiving, in upstate New York, so beautiful you’d think the mountains were painted as part of a set, you will feel grateful. You will feel grateful for your family, especially your parents who had the wisdom to take you out of that hell hole, for your husband, for your children, for your country, for your friends, and for all those little things that makes your life better.
And also because the food is delicious.
And not once, not once, will you consider going to a Black Friday sale. Because they have lines there.