Q is for … Queues!

QWe Brits like to think we know a thing or two about queues.

After all, we spend so much of our life stuck in a queue, whether in a traffic jam or simply queuing at the supermarket for our Christmas goodies!

In our eyes, a queue is a line of people, that is generally obvious and as straight as the  venue allows.

We accept that sometimes these queues can become straggly and unkempt, but rarely will you find one that is too disorganised.

So, you might  ask, what is the gripe?

You had to ask, didn’t you?

The point of the queue is to get you to the desired location in the briefest time, with as little contact with the other ‘queuers’ as possible.

We don’t really want to interact with other shoppers or commuters, after we are all in our own little bubble, blinkered to the needs of others and most definitely with a mission in mind.

In Britain, this is how the queuing process works.

Woe betide anyone who even tries to jump the queue.

You will be glared at, possibly verbally abused and will become the villain of the peace as your fellow queuers mumble “oy, there’s a queue!” and mutter about your lack of manners – all without maintaining eye contact with you.

I’m sure you all agree with me that this seems completely logical, fair and an honourable way to behave (forming an orderly queue, I mean, not the verbal abuse!)

However, this ‘skill’ seems not to travel well and it is with deep regret that I tell you that the system does not really work like this outside of Britain.


You’re shocked, I understand.

I was too, as well as mortified, confused and pretty freaked out by the consequences of queuing abroad.

In certain parts of the world, I doubt the word ‘queue’ even exists, because otherwise, why do they not act accordingly?

Where I live, the ‘waiting’ system – for it cannot be deemed to be a queuing process – is beyond random!

To the naked eye, it is simply a crowd!

There does not appear to be any sense to it, merely an overriding endorsement of Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest.

Yet, I am forced to admit that for some inconceivable reason, the same aim is achieved. They do this, not by standing patiently in line, each person neatly behind the other, but rather by some curious habit of speaking – out loud!

Argh! I know! It breaks every rule in the book. Heaven forbid that we should interact with our fellow lifeforms!

However, all is not lost. The last person to arrive at said waiting point needs not approach every person so waiting, he only has to ask the question, ‘who is the last person?’ Nothing more. Then that individual will make himself known, sometimes by just raising an arm or with a nod of the head. Then the last guy, just waits for the other to take his turn and then, hey presto, he is next to be served.

Amazingly simple. Only the tiniest need to communicate outside of our bubble and, in fact quite efficient.

Sometimes, chaos can be cool 🙂

(Addendum – I hope you’ve read this post with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek 🙂 )


4 thoughts on “Q is for … Queues!

  1. I live in America, and I have always LOVED the word “queue”–it sounds so lovely and refined! At my job, when we put a project to be completed onto our task list and assign duties, we say that the project is “in queue”. It just makes it seem easier to deal with, somehow!

  2. Have seen folks nearly come to blows over queues or lack thereof. Quite comical, impatient, and “put out” we can get when our queues get out of line (so to speak).

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