As an avid watcher of the HBO hit series Curb Your Enthusiasm, I often find myself trying to draw parallels between comedian Larry David’s world and my own. In one episode, while Larry waits in a long line at a buffet, a woman approaches a man in the front like he is an old friend, grandly greeting him, “ Hey, how’s it going. It’s been far too long!” As the man stared, confused, the woman, who had conveniently already picked up a plate, began serving herself. This was the introduction of the maneuver, which became known as, “the chat and cut.”
After the episode, the chat and cut remained nothing more than a fascinating concept I had seen on a television show, that was until Saratoga High’s “multicultural day.” To celebrate different cuisines around the world, the school arranged for four food trucks to serve the student body in the quad over the course of an only forty-five minute long lunch. At a school with over 1,200 students, I knew many would spend their forty-five minutes standing in line, lunchless.
By the time I, along with my roller backpack, had rolled onto the quad, there were already 150+ people in lines stretching across it. Immediately, I remembered the wait-time cutting strategy. Since I find the chat and cut morally objectionable, I decided I would only see if I could successfully orchestrate one, rather than actually benefiting from it. I glared across the food truck lines, and alas I had found the perfect point of insertion. Towards the front of the Falafel Shaq line was a collection of three classmates in my seventh period engineering class.
“Hey, what’s going on guys?” I lead with, as I suavely inched myself closer to the line, “How’s your reverse engineering project going?” As one of the members of the group answered, I nodded my attention and moved forward in tandem with the rest of the line. “Hey,” one of them finally said, at this moment I thought I had been made, “… You want to join us?”
While I did not have the pleasure of consuming Falafel Shaq that Friday afternoon, I did enjoy pondering what I had just discovered: lines, when properly dealt with, are cuttable. If one is given such a great power, questions of when, or if it is ever morally acceptable to use are natural. What if I have a test after lunch; I can’t do well on an empty stomach, can I? What if I only want a drink, can I bend the rules then? And while a part of me was tugged at by the allure of skipping the wait, I knew, and still believe; it is never ok to chat and cut.