Why do people queue-jump? More significantly, why do people queue-jump when I happen to be in the queue they are jumping into? Even worse, why does the person in front of me leave the queue in order to get something they’ve forgotten, then automatically assume that I’m happy to let them back in? This is a serious problem we face in modern day society, but is entirely academic unless one has actually succeeded in joining a queue in the first place.
Such was the dilemma the other day in W.H. Smith’s where I was picking up this month’s copy of The Oldie. Ironically, it was because of an oldie that I was prevented from joining the queue for the till. She was a very wide woman with an even wider suitcase which, together, caused a major blockage in the magazine aisle. Mrs. Oldie kept yelling at her oldie husband – who was blocking the other end of the aisle – to ask whether she should join the queue whilst he read a magazine he’d found. But neither of them could make up their mind so stalemate ensued, with me stuck in the middle eying the other customers enviously who all had a clear passage to a selection of enticing queues.
It occurred to me recently that there is something seriously wrong with the whole etiquette of queuing. Someone once said that it is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich writer to enter the kingdom of God. This also applies to joining queues. I find it unfair that one can be queuing at a till for several minutes, only for the customer behind to suddenly jump sideways into a parallel queue at the very moment another till becomes free. There should be a rule dictating that, regardless of the number of operational tills at any one time, a single master-queue must be formed where everyone waits to be served by the next available sales assistant.
I have attempted on a number of occasions to introduce this policy into society by strategically positioning myself at the centre-most point between occupied checkouts in order to entice other customers to form one big happy queue behind me. Unfortunately, I generally find myself being completely ignored by such customers who proceed to form their own queues at any till which takes their fancy. Subsequently, this results in me standing in the middle of the shop making strange groaning sounds whilst flapping my magazine at people erratically like someone on day release from the local mental mansion.
Opinions from Electric People on potential solutions to the current queue crisis are gladly welcomed, as well as ways on how to apply a bit of polite etiquette without looking like an escaped lunatic.