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

Send your comments to David

News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24

  • sean.otto.9 - 2012-11-06 08:32

    Thats why the big guy gave us elbows Dave , good article.

      tim.gordon.5011516 - 2012-11-06 09:46

      And preferably aim for the nuts.

  • gordon.turner.37 - 2012-11-06 08:48

    For queues drive through umtata any day of the week before Christmas. ATM queues that stretch 3 blocks. Was even worse before cellphones and the 1 working pay phone was doing Christmas wishes.

  • andrew.zyl.12 - 2012-11-06 09:14

    Love the Solly Kramers analogy! My dear mother takes it upon herself to inspect the trolley of the person behind her and make arb comments like "Gee you must have a big family!". The next-in-line and I want to disappear in a puff of smoke while all she wants to do is make conversation to pass the time :-)

  • Janet - 2012-11-06 09:25

    Oh Dave...I read this standing in a queue in the bank in G-town with Mr Hugger doing just that...I think I survived cos of your article!!

      david.a.moseley - 2012-11-06 15:35

      Janet, the queues outside the FNB in G-town are the worst. I remember walking past there in the good ol' days and shuddering at the thought of trying to draw loot. Ha ha.

  • stephen.j.dickson.3 - 2012-11-06 09:37

    Banks queues are the worst.........bottom line

  • mike.mcc.71 - 2012-11-06 10:10

    Wait till you try queuing with nationals from countries such as India, they are accustomed to zero personal space so they seem to be uncomfortable when they are not physically touching someone, they don't seem to understand other cultures' space requirements very well at all.

      lee.demarco.73 - 2012-11-06 11:07

      Tell me about it - I was in Singapore and I left what I thought was a decent gap between me and the person in front of me as most well mannered South Africans do. Apparently, that was a sign to say that I am not in the queue - Seriously this person came and stood between ,me and the next in line, with perhaps a hands length between us. Eish man - some people...

      Janet - 2012-11-07 08:04

      Oh dear...I'd really rather like to visit India...might need some calmettes to cope!!!

  • sarah.bouttell - 2012-11-06 10:26

    Lordy, I swear, my stomach heaved precariously when I read your description of Mr. Hugger. I tend to step back heavily on their instep, which tends to buy me a bit more space. (shudder, still freaked out about the "ear lobe licking..."

      flysouth - 2012-11-06 14:20

      I am sure you are not Sarah, but if you were big and ugly like me you could, as I have done to Mr. Hugger on occasion simply turn around and push him gently back by the centre of the chest - then thank him for not crowding. The shock is too much and I have never had an adverse reaction.

  • TheyTookMyNickLaZynEko - 2012-11-06 11:14

    atm's need faster processors.

      manie.engelbrecht.10 - 2012-11-06 13:43

      Indeed. I spend twice as long waiting for the machine than I do pressing buttons. But I think its their way of punishing us for wanting to get our money out. Why do we have to decide between languages at the start? did you not specify that at the bank when you applied for the account? surely that can be read on your card? even handheld cardmachines are faster than an atm.

  • jason.dutoit - 2012-11-06 14:50

    queue jumpers in traffic... the most inconsiderate, selfish and obnoxious people in the world

  • klets.ou - 2012-11-06 15:34

    Absa has the slowest ATMs in the universe!!!! It was faster to withdraw money in a brach with a "savings book" than to draw money there. Infact, it is so slow it feels like it is taking money and not giving money...

  • melschleich - 2012-11-06 17:09

    I stand in ques every day and still not used to the Huggers. It's especially nasty if they smell! Jig....

  • reine.marais - 2012-11-07 14:03

    A personality type that is second only to Mr Hugger is the The Rapist - the cold call sales agent who simply refuses to take 'no' for an answer. At least in the privacy of one's home one can just be rude and slam the 'phone down. Why does one have to be forced into obnoxious behaviour to deal with some people?

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-11-08 05:49

    Well said ..most irritating @ atms and supermarket ques! also, Why don't they have wallets ready ?

  • pages:
  • 1