Thursday, August 23, 2012

I just don't get the queue

There's something about queues that upsets me. The idea of being a part of a linear arrangement, in anticipation of a fair opportunity at the end of it, has never really appealed to me. It is easy to ascribe these feelings to my North-Indian origin, where general disregard for order of any kind is instilled in every individual. We, the people from North -India, are quite Darwinian in our approach - if you don't have what it takes to shove your way to an opportunity, you don't deserve it in the first place. Over the years though, I have trained myself to be more civil, but my dislike for queues has only grown stronger.

After some serious introspection , I realized that the reason for my condition is actually a gradual depletion of faith in a favorable outcome of queuing up. Every time I am in a queue, my otherwise optimistic outlook towards life turns despondent. It's not surprising that I can't recall a specific incident to narrate, because all of my queue experiences follow a fairly standard template.

It always starts with the complex decision of which queue to join. That's a stumbling block right at the beginning, because I am not the kind of person who usually decides things. Give me a menu and I would starve myself to unconsciousness before I can make up my mind on what to order. That's probably why I often end up eating food that is liked either by friends or waiters. Unfortunately, you can't expect an honest piece of advice from anyone in a queue. There are no friends in a queue, only opportunity seekers , you are pretty much on your own.

Already under pressure of making the right choice, I get overwhelmed by the scene that awaits me at the queuing area. Hundreds of people segregated in several queues, each of which leads up to an apparent god sitting behind a mysterious glass window or a counter, doling out his blessings in the form of tokens, tickets, or burgers. Each queue promises a reward that lies on the far end and I am supposed to choose the one which would get me to it, the fastest.

This is the point where I take a deep breath, spend a few moments identifying the swiftest and the shortest queue, and zero in on the one I must join. Pregnant with self doubt, I then go ahead and join the shortlisted queue, and soon after, one or all of the following happen:

1. There is a system malfunction at the counter of my queue.

2. Someone up ahead gets into an impossible to resolve squabble which stalls the entire queue.

3. The guy at the counter realizes that there's too much water in his system and decides to take a a really long loo break.

In a few minutes, I realize that I have been duped by destiny, yet again. If my life were a motion picture, this would be the time for it to rain and a really sad, violin solo to play in the background. The rain and the violin solo continue as I spend the next few moments, painfully watching other queues move ahead, while my head shakes in disbelief over the unfairness of God.

The queue, much like life, is full of twists and turns. Just as I start recollecting myself, I see this closed, empty counter , right next to my queue. Some activity behind this counter indicates that it might be about to open, and I see this as an opportunity to redeem myself. I find myself facing a choice scenario again; the stakes being much higher this time. If I choose to pursue this opportunity and it materializes, I would be the envy of all the morons who lacked my foresight, but, if it turns out to be a wrong call, I 'd be devastated , and not to mention, a subject of ridicule by everyone else.

You might consider this choice to be difficult for me, but it really isn't so. As a matter of fact, I am completely aware, that no matter what choice I make, I will end up being on the wrong side of luck. I have empirical evidence to prove that there is absolutely zero probability of my gamble paying off. Every time I have chosen to move, the counter has remained closed, and I have had to start over; while every time I have practiced restraint, and stayed back, I have had to grudgingly witness the celebrations of the lucky dogs mongrels some other offensive word ***** who chose to switch. In effect, there is no escaping the rain and the sad,violin solo.

Usually, by this time, I turn stoic. With all hope and optimism gone, I m reduced into this zombie; moving forward , one step at a time, oblivious and unaffected by the happenings in the queue. I am jolted back to consciousness only when I reach the counter, at which point, one of the following is likely to happen:

1. I realize that they don't accept credit cards , and I don't have cash.

2. They don't have what I want. They also don't have what might be my second choice , or, my third.

3. An unforeseen and, possibly, unheard of event unfolds. (like this one time when the computer at a rail reservation counter burst into flames)

Contrary to what one might expect, my reaction to such a conclusion is not at all dramatic. I usually close my eyes, spread my lips in a Buddha smile, and go back home to write a blog post.

I decided to write on the subject after reading a post on a friend's blog. The rib tickling post paints a wonderful picture of the way we Indians queue up. Go read!

Image Source: google image


  1. Simply dished out as a funny dessert in d somber north indian menu...loved ur style...keep it up


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