Jan 9, 2008

On Waiting in Long Lines and Finding Creative Solutions

1925 photo of lines of Italian immigrants waiting for the Italian-language newspapers with news from turbulent Italy

The University of Toledo, in its drive to improve its reputation as a student-friendly campus, came up with a new system called Rocket Solution Central. This new center combines the services previously offered by the Financial Aid and Registrar offices, with the upside that students will not have to visit several different offices to take care of related matters.

Unfortunately, what this means during the beginning of the semester is that there is now one really long line instead of two smaller ones. This is especially irritating when a person has a simple request, like my need to drop off a transcript request form.

So I waited in the twisting, slow-moving line for nearly thirty minutes before making it to the front, listening to the many people with complicated financial aid snafus and other time-consuming needs. When I was the next to be summoned to the desk, I heard a young woman in a waitress uniform muttering aloud about the excessive lines.

"They ought to have an Express Line for litte s**t," she grumbled after learning that she needed to join the massive line for a simple request. "I have to be at work in like ten minutes. Dammmit... dammmit... dammit."

I expressed my agreement with this assessment, and then watched with interest as she stood next to me at the front.

"F**k it - I'm making my own motherf**king express lane," she declared, and waltzed right up to the counter as two clerks opened up simultaneously. I may have unwittingly helped create a monster with my implicit agreement. No jokes about anyone's need for drug rehab, please.

I heard some people grumbling back in the line, and I was torn between my sense of fair play and my admiration for this person's creative solution to her time dilemma.

Let's call this a "wait your frigging turn" versus "down with the machine!"

Yes, our impatient subject had to endure a few muttered "what a b**ch" comments but, truth be told, she finished her business at the window faster than I did with my 30-second paperwork processing. I am sure that she made it to work on time, and I doubt that a few red lights would stop her, either.

Still, I am not sure I would attempt to duplicate her feat. I think I would come off looking like a yuppified, self-centered idiot rather than a harried, underpaid restaurant server.


microdot said...

Hey Mike, after a life time of creative anarchy in America, in which I have to admit, I got a lot done by breaking and ignoring rules, now I live in France where ther are a lot of lines, a lot of rules and a social tradition of ignoring them all....
You just gotta do what you gotta do.
Just don't do anything to flip out those homeland security dudes and HEY! BRO, DON"T TAZE ME!

Hooda Thunkit said...


Still, you have to admire her chutzpah ;-)

steve said...

I would gladly wait in line for an affordable textbook. :(

Valbee said...

Rocket Solutions Central is a joke. I just received an email this afternoon, January 11th, regarding my financial aid for spring. It was in response to the email I sent them on December 17th.

I think it's the new "student-centered" tactic. Ignore students until they find the answers they need through an alternate source; then contact them and tell them what they already know. Brilliant plan.

The Screaming Nutcase said...

Bloody UT....

As HSC students, we had to pick up our parking passes, but they were good for a whole year. Last fall, we were told to pick up parking passes for fall, and that UT would begin mailing our passes with Spring 2008 semester.

It was just earlier this week that we got the email telling us to pick up our Spring passes.

MP said...

I still prefer UT's financial aid solutions to those of Northern Illinois University:

-Changed the location of the Financial Aid office 3 times in 3 years

-Reduced loan amounts based on other financial aid received with no notice to students

-Wastefully send 3-4 different tuition bills, including one after the bill has been paid (WTF???)

-Take multiple lunch breaks when the line is out the door

-Verbally complain when students complain of the inconvenience of the entire process

MP said...

Oh, and NIU also houses the Registrar in an entirely different building from Bursar and Financial Aid, in addition to the Registrar charging for every service you get from them (practically).

Seriously, UT students and grads: thank your lucky stars, if you can believe that.