About 15 people were standing in a slow-moving line at the Uptown post office. "I can't believe they only have three windows open," said one woman irritably to the man behind her. "It's lunchtime!"
A fourth employee was standing behind the counter at window six, but she was sorting papers, jiggling a key in a lock, talking to the employee at window seven. A bell rang, and the sign on the wall indicated that window six was open. But as a woman strode up to it, the employee walked away.
The woman waited, first tapping her foot impatiently, then leaning through the window, craning to see where the employee had gone.
The bell rang for window four, and again for window eight. The woman looked around the lobby and threw her arms up.
The bell rang for window seven, and a man walked up to it. The woman pushed next to him, poked her head through the window, and told the woman behind the counter she thought she should be next since the employee at window six didn't seem to be coming back. The woman behind the counter told her she'd have to get in line like everyone else.
The woman shouted that she'd been in line, she'd waited, and she'd gone to window six only because the bell for it rang. The woman behind the counter told her the bell couldn't have rung because the employee who'd been at the window wasn't on duty.
"She rang it!" the woman yelled, slamming her hand on the counter.
Just then the employee who'd been at window six reappeared. The woman pointed at her and shouted, "You rang the bell!"
"I did not!" the employee shouted back.
"Yes you did!" "No I didn't!" "Yes you did!" "No I didn't!" the employee shouted even louder, and moved away from the counter. "Yes you did!" came a loud chorus from most of the people still standing in line. For a moment the whole room, both sides of the counter, was silent. "Yes you did!" shouted a woman near the front of the line. "We saw it, so you can shut up!" The woman behind the counter at window seven stuck her head out. "Who said that?" she asked angrily. "You wanna step out?" No one said anything.