Why is this line so long?

31May11

As I arrived at the airport last week, I was greeted with the longest security line I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even a peak travel day, since we left a few days before the holiday weekend, which made me wonder: why the heck was the line so long? Other passengers echoed the same sentiment, and it quickly became the dominant discussion topic among the many hundreds of us who were stuck in the queue.

Needless to say, the general attitude changed from curious to impatient to angry within about 20 minutes. And even when we finally made it through the line, I had no idea what caused the original delay. Days later, the situation remains a mystery to me.

There’s an important takeaway here. People have an innate desire to understand why things happen — especially when those events lead to a major hassle for them. In my example, everyone would have been a lot calmer if the airport put up a sign or made an audio announcement explaining what was causing the extraordinarily long line. By conveying the reasons behind adverse situations to the people who are affected, you’ll go a long way towards putting their minds at ease — while making things easier for the staff that has to interact with those customers, as well.



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