1. I’ve always had to take a number at the DMV, but I can’t recall ever doing so anywhere else (other than one local, annual book sale, which per fire department regulations has to limit the number of people allowed in the smallish venue at one time).

    Some fast-food counters assign numbers and call out or flash same on a board when ready for pickup, but since the numbers are automatic (printed on receipt), I don’t think that counts as me “taking” a number.

  2. I’ve had to take numbers at the DMV, and when buying cloth at Jo-Ann. Never at the post office, and never at the deli counter.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a supermarket deli counter that DIDN’T have a “take a number” machine.

    Of course all if this is irrelevant to the “what’s the joke here?” issue.

  4. … *facepalms* OK, Shrug’s last paragraph reminds me…I’m in exactly that same boat, but their brain actually made the connection of it being a similar situation, at least. (Only at ever had even that at Taco Bell and A&W, though. Not at a deli or any establishment of a similar type.)

  5. I think the joke is that such a huge number couldn’t possibly be seen during business hours. That’s assuming that the first person to arrive got number “1.”

    Now, if the numbers are cumulative, so that the first person to arrive would start with the number after the previous day’s last number, then that would make more sense. But it also completely removes the “joke.”

  6. I think the main part of the joke is that with numbers that large, you have to actually think to put them in order. Usually the numbers have 3 digits or less, so ordering them is fairly automatic. It’s not much of a joke, but I think that’s the intention.

  7. You non-californians are so cute.

    Shrug; Taking a number is taking number whether you have to stand in line to get the numbers generated in the first place or if you get just pull them from ticket dispenser. Actually, I would say being assigned a number (as in at a fast food place “Your order number is 26”) is specifically *NOT* taking a number and taking a number is the exact opposite where there is a ticket dispenser (such as a deli) or a placard with hanging cards to take (such as a clinic) is the idea of a number.

    By the shape of the numbers and the way they are dressed and the drab background I get the strong impression they are at a clinic are a social service office.

    And the joke is, like the final scene in Beetlejuice , that numbers are very very large and the wait is very very long.

    Of course there isn’t any *point* in telling someone they are behind you. You still only go when you are called. Still psychologically when stressed we get very edgy about people attempting to appear before us.

  8. The joke is that the sensible thing to do is to reset to 1 after getting to 99. The point is to serve people in order, not to count them. Now if you actually have more than 100 people waiting in line, you might want to go to another deli. Or reset after 999.

  9. “The joke is that the sensible thing to do is to reset to 1 after getting to 99.”

    Not if your line has more than 99 people in it. Granted, we only SEE 2 people in this cartoon, but we have no idea how many are present, but out-of-frame.

  10. I’m pretty sure the joke is that there frequently more than 10,000 people in line. Which might mean you might want to consider going to another civic service office and …. oh, wait….

  11. I think the joke might have worked to some degree if the guy who was speaking had a smaller, regular-sized ticket.

  12. The only place I’ve ever had more than two digits is Lee Valley. This is a somewhat unfair statement, as Service Canada (and Service Ontario?) uses three characters, but the first is a letter. I’ve never needed to wait long either of those places though. (Then there’s the time we were waiting in the car for my husband to pick up an order at Lee Valley, and he did his browsing *first*, before getting an number, right before the lunch rush came in. And they didn’t have a pickup window, so he was in the same queue as everyone else.)

  13. Number systems make sense where there are a lot of customers waiting, and multiple people that can serve them. At the post office, you can come in, get your number, and fill out any necessary paperwork or address flat-rate envelopes or the like while waiting.

    The last time I was at the license bureau (we don’t have a DMV in Missouri) there were two number dispensers. One for driver’s license renewal and the other for plates. There were also chairs for people to wait in. Relatively civilized, all things considered. The past several years I have been getting my plates renewed online, but starting net year they have a new plate style so everyone has to get new plates. I’m not sure if they will do that online as it would requiring mailing the plates. I have January plates, so I’ll find out soon.

  14. DMV uses a letter and three? numbers. But that’s more to indicate multiple processes and multiple lines with multiple purposes. Often fast food places will have two lines going one in on set of hundreds and another in another.

  15. When Hamilton tickets went on sale for its upcoming San Francisco run, they assigned positions in the virtual line randomly to all the people logged in when they opened the virtual box office. Mine was about 65,000. It took about 7 hours, but I did get tickets, I suspect someone had the number in the cartoon.

  16. Kilby – and they run 3 sets of letter/numbers at a time!

    Due to a late date visit to the eye doctor a couple of years ago, I had to go and renew my license in person. After not even being able to park at the one we normally go to, I noticed another office in the opposite direction from our house and we went there. They were so empty that in the time it took to retake my photo (at their offering and Robert’s insistence to me) my number had been called and was gone. I was shocked.

    Our reenactment unit has a problem with its utility trailer (have to store the tables, chairs, pots and cannon somewhere). A not so bright former commander (2 commanders before Robert) registered somehow, the trailer to the township that it is named for and which supports us with our headquarters and an annual stipend. Since Robert became commander (and he no longer is after a long run as commander) and we found this out we have been trying to resolve the problem. Just as we found out what to do and were going in to do so – we need me to sign as the seller on behalf of the group and as treasurer and the commander to sign as the purchaser the new commander was elected, so still it is undone. Since we don’t work and new commander does, we are trying to make it as easy as possible for him. We went to the “empty” DMV office and now it is jammed beyond belief – why? Well NYS is apparently trying to get everyone to switch to a smart license as old license not valid even for domestic flights or for going into Federal offices and one has to come in to the DMV in person to do this – and even people who do not need to renew are doing it. I did find out that one can make an appointment, which people say actually works, so now that the trailer will not be coming out for events until April, we will again try to get the change made, so we can sell this trailer and buy a new one.

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