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Mother Takes Kid to the Bathroom, and Couple Refuses To Let Them Back in Line, What Would You Do?

A couple feels terrible about telling a mom and son to go to the back of the line after they leave their position without a word. We’ll call the couple Alex and Riley.

The Growing Line

People standing in queue
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As Alex and Riley stood in line, they noticed a mother and her 10-year-old child, who we’ll call Taylor, standing in front of them. Suddenly, they stepped out of the line, leaving Alex and Riley wondering if they were coming back. While the mom and her child were away, another couple joined the queue behind Alex and Riley, causing the line to grow longer.

Mother and Son Return

Mother and son
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After about five to ten, the mom and son returned and tried to reclaim their previous position in the line. However, with the addition of the new couple, the line had moved forward, leaving the previous positions occupied.

Polite Argument and Resolution

Couples thinking
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The mom and child politely argued that they were in line first, but Alex, Riley, and the couple behind them explained that the line had moved and didn’t allow the mom to join back the front line.

While Alex and Riley felt sorry for the mom and child, they understood that sometimes unexpected things happen but believed that if the mom had informed them about their brief absence, they would have gladly saved their spot in line. So they turned to an online forum to know if they had acted unfairly. Were they wrong to have refused? Here’s how people in the forum respond.

Wasn’t Much Punishing Them

Woman shrugging and amazed
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The user points out that the short absence might have been due to urgent personal needs, such as using the restroom or changing hygiene products. They believe that such a brief absence doesn’t warrant punishment and suggest that letting them back in line would be decent. Especially as they remembered who they were and were not absent for long.

Recognition Is Irrelevant

Woman saying no
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A second individual offers a contrasting perspective in response to the first user’s understanding and sympathetic viewpoint. They find the idea of considering the mother’s situation baffling; stating whether the couple remembered them is irrelevant.

According to this individual, if someone leaves a line without informing others or asking to hold their spot, they shouldn’t be surprised if they are not allowed back in. They assert that the mother’s lack of consideration for others doesn’t warrant special treatment, even if she had a child. In their opinion, having a child does not exempt someone from the standard rule of rejoining the line from the back, and it is not reasonable to assume that others will remember them in such situations.

It’s Common Decency

Woman smirking shrugging and pretending
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One user considers it a typical and courteous practice to allow such individuals back in line without issue. However, another user strongly disagrees, asserting that it is not the social norm and that people who leave the line without asking should not expect to be allowed back in where they left off.

They argue that this practice is unfair to those who have patiently waited and those behind who might feel inconvenienced by others coming and going as they, please. According to this user, the bottom line is that leaving the line without communication means forfeiting the right to return to the same spot.

What Is Common Decency?

Pretty woman covering face using a white paper sheet with drawn question mark, like a mask, for hiding her identity on pink background
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Someone presents a viewpoint that emphasizes the importance of common decency in such situations. According to this perspective, common decency involves ensuring that the people behind you are comfortable with you temporarily leaving the line.

If you step out of the line without having someone to hold your spot, it is seen as a voluntary act of giving up your place in the queue.

It’s a Social Norm

Confused and annoyed woman
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One individual insists that it’s still decent to let them back in, citing that they’ve observed it happen countless times, making it the social norm in their view. However, a second user disagrees, emphasizing that just because something occurs frequently doesn’t make it normal or the right approach.

They assert that the real social norm should be understanding that leaving the line means going to the back unless the person asks someone to save their spot.

There Are Rules

Young funny unhappy woman questioning look
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Someone highlights the importance of social rules to ensure fairness and prevent people from taking advantage of one another while waiting in line. They point out that waiting in line can be unpleasant, as those in line often can’t do things like leaving, getting drinks, or sitting down elsewhere.

One of these established rules is that if someone has an emergency, like needing a bathroom break (which wasn’t the case in this scenario), they should ask someone to save their spot.

It’s Fair Game

Woman saying its ok
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One forum member offers a nuanced perspective on holding someone’s place in line. They suggest that if someone asks you to save their spot for a short duration (five to ten minutes), it’s considerate to agree, as long as you don’t plan to leave before they return.

However, if they don’t ask for their spot to be held, there’s no obligation to do so. In such cases, if a person leaves the line without informing others and disappears for an extended period, it’s fair game for others to assume they have given up their place in line. Simply assuming someone will remember them doesn’t justify being allowed back in line after an unannounced absence. Many in the forum agreed that, ultimately, clear communication and respect for others’ time and space are essential for a fair and harmonious line-waiting experience.

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