Unusually, I rented a car here in San Francisco. This is because
The Hertz counter at SFO was like a refugee camp. Actually, all the car rental places were. (It’s a big area offsite with a common waiting room.) Hundreds of people in there, many slumped over their luggage, wailing babies, the whole business. Being a frequent traveler, I smugly whisked my way downstairs to the Gold counter. Where my name was not on the magic tote board, necessitating a not-so-smug trip inside where about twenty people were in line. (This is very unusual.)
As I finally got to the head of the line, perhaps thirty minutes after standing in it, two women walked in the door and right up to the clerk who was about to beckon me over. This irritated the heck out of me. I put a big smile on my face, stepped close to them, and in my best passive-aggressive sweet voice asked, “Excuse me, but were you in line in front of me?”
The older of the women gave me a sour look and said, “No, but we just have a question.”
I said, “Ma’am, we all have questions. And we’ve been standing in that line back there a very long time waiting our turns.”
She looked away from me, so I added, still very nicely, “Think how you’d feel if I did this to you after you’d been standing in line.”
“We’ll only be a minute,” she said. Her friend was looking everywhere but at me, deeply embarrassed.
I told her, “Well, you do what you think is right, ma’am. Thank you for your consideration.”
As they were leaving, after conducting a fairly complex transaction involving the second woman as a driver on the first woman’s contract, I leaned close again and said, still in a calm voice with a smile, “I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.”
The older woman mumbled an apology and they slunk out.
Obviously it did me no good — the clerked still helped them, line jumpers or no, and they weren’t embarrassed enough to give it up, forcing me to wait another five minutes or so — but I hope like hell they were at least a little galled by their sense of entitlement.