David Moseley

The curious case of queuing

2012-11-06 08:17

David Moseley

Nothing drives my angst to boiling point quicker than having to stand in a queue. Simply, the lurking drives me dilly. The British are supposedly the world’s greatest “queue-ers”, stiff upper lip in the face of adversity and all that, but when the genes were passed down the line I was most definitely skipped.

Sports fixtures, cinema sweetie stalls, banks and check-out tills at the shops are the most consistent offenders, yet somehow stadiums, the cinema and large retail outlets have managed to minimise your waiting time. It’s a miracle of modern times that you can stand in line with 80 000 other people at a place like Soccer City and breeze in and out relatively swiftly.

ATMs appear to be the exception to the rule of modern expediency, though. It never fails to amaze me how some persons still manage to spend 10 minutes fumbling around with a keypad, without being ripped off by a trickster. If I have to stand in a queue of one at an ATM I'll give it a skip, because you can be certain the lone person in front of you will take 20 minutes just to slide the card in the right way round.

Banks too can still set your teeth on edge should you be unlucky enough to require a particular document at a particular time of the month. Such was my situation last week. The scene couldn't be worse set; month-end and just after payday on a Friday afternoon, all the alarm bells you need to turn around and run straight into the traffic rather. But I was desperate.

High noon
Obviously the place was heaving like a Solly Kramer in Belville with a 3-for-1 brandy special. Customers were anxious and bank tellers nervous. The scenario was akin to an old wild west barman pouring his last drops of whisky for the local hooligans; one false move and all hell would break loose.

But I realise now the tension isn't created by the institution. It's the customers, the clots in the queue. I was patiently waiting my turn in a line that would have terrified the ride staff at Disney World. No worries, I thought. More staff seem to be appearing out the woodwork. This will all be over soon. And then Mr Hugger arrived.

Mr Hugger is one of those chaps who likes to get up close and personal during queue time, so much so that when my phone alerted me to a text message he was first to reply. Now, I'll admit that I smell fabulous, but I don't generally encourage strange men to rub their cheeks against mine to share the fragrance.

When a customer had finished being served, the queue stepped forward. I made the tiny centimetre-long shuffle too. Mr Hugger? Oh no. Not him. He just got right in there, caressing my buttocks with his front end while sliding his feet under my slops. Such was the cosy set-up in this queue I have expected him to hand me a bill for services rendered before I walked off.

There are many sub-species of queue characters out there: the Jumper, the Place Holder, the Trolley Basher, the Stray Dog (usually loitering alongside a queue, only to nip in just ahead of you), the Returner (“Oh, I was here. I just went to get a Coke”), but the personal space invaders like Mr Hugger, breathing clammy, post-lunch breath down your neck, intimately licking your earlobe or fondling your cheeks with their person are the very worst of their kind.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter

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