Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Queue etiquette

An item in the Herald yesterday called It's just one giant queue for all of mankind and a visit to Echoes in a Nomad's Head via Michele got me thinking about queues. A little woman is quoted in the Herald’s article as saying, “We put a man on the moon but we can’t get rid of queues.” I’m not sure about the connection between moon-landings and queues but I do hate queues especially those at the shop where I occasionally go to buy a sandwich for my lunch. I mean, come on! We only have a few moments of free time during the day.. why do we have to spend part of it standing in a queue? Not that queues can’t be entertaining. I’ve had a few interesting, almost philosophical, discussions standing in queues. Sometimes the queue is so long that to quote that terrible Australian soap, ‘our neighbours become good friends’.

Different countries have different queuing philosophies. In India you join the line .. not the queue and the idea is never to leave even the tiniest of spaces between you and the person in front ... this can be quite a warm experience in temperatures that can hit the 40s! The only rule .. just hold your ground as best you can. It’s also a reason to have Ladies lines ….. it wouldn’t do to stand too close a lady! A mixed sex line would leave gaps that could be filled by an unscrupulous queue jumper leading to much shouting, pushing and even an occassional riot! Those who are fortunate enough to afford it avoid all this hassle by hiring someone to queue for them. What’s your profession? I’m a line- standee.

In school we were trained to line up. Every playtime was followed by the instruction, 'get in line' before being marched back in to the classroom. That was in the days when we sat in rows and not in little groups around tables as they do nowadays. Unlike the Indians, the Brits make a very clear distinction between lines and queues. Queues are somehow more purposeful. What, even computers jobs are queued! Lines are somehow passive. You form a queue but you wait in line! And if you are in a line in India to buy a train ticket, waiting is most definitely what you are doing. It would certainly be your lucky day if you were able to complete the transaction in less than 2 hours!

I read one of those Interesting Facts this morning. It was on the paper backing of my panty liner (the bit you peal off before use) and called Odd Spot # 149, a bit of a worry really! Anyway, the Odd Spot stated that 0.7% of the world’s population is drunk at any one time. I wonder how many of the rest of us are standing in queues!


Blogger Ms Mac said...

You know, it's not the queuing that annoys me as much as the other people who don't know how to do it properly. All I ask is for my fellow shoppers to form an orderly queue and respect that I was here before you. That's all.

I have given up queuing in banks though as there is no excuse for banks to have queues, at all and prefer instead to interact with my pc for financial transactions!

6:54 PM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I wonder what marketing genius decided to dub the Interesting Facts on your brand of panty liner an 'odd spot'?!

10:22 PM  
Blogger Bluegrass Mama said...

Hmmm, makes one wonder if panty liners should become "panty queue-ers."

1:25 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Wow: educational and funny, too. Now that's a good post. I love the odd spot line.

6:13 AM  
Blogger granny p said...

What you don't add is that: standing in line/queue is one thing. Standing in the right line/queue is quite another. In India they seemed (in my much less extensive than yours experience, admittedly) to make an art of sending you to the wrong one. Which you had no means of finding out till you were at the head of it. Which meant starting all over again. Which also meant learning more in depths about Indian railway stations than you might want to know...

By the way I agree with succeeding post. Why can't kids walk to school any longer. In my young day - quaver. Oh the joy of being old(ish).

12:42 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Isn't the connection between lunar landings and queues obvious? Going to the moon was a HUGE deal. Yet how many lines do you think Armstrong, Aldrin, Conrad, Bean, Shepard, Mitchell, Scott, Irwin, Young, Duke, Cernan and Schmitt stood in? You got it . . . NONE. Well, maybe there was a brief queue waiting for Armstrong & the other commanders to get off the ladder so Aldrin & the pilots could disembark, too. But those lines were always short . . . one person. And even then, everyone knew the protocol and kept the line moving. So with all the rest of the space-age stuff we've gotten from NASA, why haven't we been able to incorporate that simple little thing into the consumer market?? ;)

Thanks for the visit & link, BTW :)


7:12 AM  

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