To queue or not to queue

Ironically, in India the more educated we are getting the more socially inept our social skills, writes Sujata B Shakeel.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 13:21 IST

Jump the queue! The Farlex Free Dictionary describes it as a move ‘ to move in front of people who have been waiting longer for something than you’. And might I add, actually get your work done without so much as a thought for others waiting in the line.

The recent experience of a young colleague of mine elucidates my point. The generally desolate ATM booth in our office is the most popular spot on the first of every month, with people queuing up at all hours to withdraw from their freshly transferred salary.

November 1 was no different with my colleague standing in a queue awaiting her turn at the ATM. “With my mind shuttling between the amount I should withdraw and the boss waiting for the story I had to submit, I was a little exasperated, when a woman rather than wait in the queue rushed before me to the ATM. I did not comment but lost patience when unmindful of the queue she carried on with her transaction in an excruciatingly slow manner all the while holding a loud conversation on her cellphone.”

“Unable to control my temper I blurted out “Why is she taking so much time?” only to be silenced by her glare. When the lady finally completed the transaction, she walked up to me and snapped, “I hope I did not take too much time.” “Of course, you did,” I retorted making my way to the machine. I completed my transaction in less than a minute and said to her, “That’s called taking no time.”

My colleague’s experience is one that we are all very familiar with. How many times have you stood in a queue patiently awaiting your turn at the cinema ticket counter, at your favourite burger joint, at a discotheque or concert, only to have some smart-Alec sidle past you, jumping the queue and getting served before you. And all you could do was to either seethe and curse your luck, or get into an argument with the ‘usurper’! It happens to me all the times.

Whether I am waiting to deposit my phone/electricity bill, pay for my veggies at the Mother Dairy booth, in a line at the ATM, or just trying to get tickets for a film at the cinema counter, it seems to me that there is always someone ‘smarter’ who manages to get past the waiting queue and get his work done without breaking into a sweat! There have been times when an exasperated me has confronted the person only to have to eat humble pie as the rest of the waiting gentry found nothing wrong in the situation.

Rather, their stoic acceptance that aisa to hota hi rehta hai har din, kahan tak check kariyega stand only seemed to embolden the queue jumper to turn around and smile cheekily before pushing off. Not a very commendable thing, this ‘jumping the queue’ business. It is downright rude to do so and if you happen to be in Britain you may just trigger off a ‘queue-rage’.

Ironically, in India the more educated we are getting the more socially inept our social skills. People who jump the queue or who ‘cut in line’, are annoying because they harm others.

They are selfish and their selfishness reduces other peoples’ range of opportunities. Clearly, queue-jumping is undesirable and socially unacceptable. By adhering to the unwritten code of the queue you are showing respect and consideration not just to the waiting people but also their time.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 13:21 IST