Sorry, you’ll have to excuse me, I’m British. Please form a queue and we’ll have this sorted in a civilised fashion. Yes, that’s right a queue. Oh you don’t know what one is?
My statement above may have confused you but I often feel this way at times. We British are known for our conservative views, stiff upper lip and a love for queuing. Well okay “love” might be taking it too far but we believe in the value of a queue, such a shame so many do not.
When you think about it queues are great. We are proud for it to be assigned as a very British institution. They are orderly, uniform, structured, fair and I always thought easy to understand.
Compare it to the alternative which is a free for all. Brawn, brashness and even aggression wins the day. Almost everyone feels aggrieved, angry and deprived of what they feel is their right to something.
As I travel the world and even here in the UK I get frustrated at how the basic principles of queuing are flaunted or undermined by selfish, self-righteous and outright ignorant people. Let’s face it that is what they are, ignorant.
At an early age, at school in fact we are taught the ways of queuing. As are so many around the world. Stand in single file, form a straight line and move forward one by one. Not too complicated and something which is ingrained into the psyche of so many people.
Yet if you travel the world you see how this so British (?) institution has not been adopted by many. This is particularly the case the further east you go.
I spent a long time living in Saudi Arabia and the Arabs have little to no concept of how to form a queue when shopping or in public places. And God help any Westerner who tries to check in for a flight in India, pure chaos!
I was even once in a queue for a flight in China when a group of very tall, muscular Russians just came marching in and went straight to the front of the queue. They ridiculed anyone who dared question them. Sheer arrogance and brawn (they were an intimidating sight) left me with a bad impression of these particular Russians. (Up until that point many Chinese told me how they found Russians to be very rude, now I’d seen an example with my own eyes.)
Travelling can be stressful enough so why do morons have to ruin it by challenging the basic rules of a queue?
It is as if I have a sixth sense and I can see these people coming. They have a demeanour, even a swagger about them. The way they walk, look, carry themselves and assess the queue of people in front of them. It is as if they are affronted to be asked to form a queue.
Up they come, casually gliding down the side, pretending to be curious rather than full of intent, then suddenly they merge into the line. They don’t know anyone in the line they just merge in.
All us poor souls who’ve been stood on our feet for a while, we arrived a lot earlier than this ignorant queue jumper. We are now delayed further from our mission to get to where we want to be, at the front of the queue!
I can recall many more instances of people who will not form a queue in the correct way. I see it almost everyday.
In January 2014 when queuing for a flight from Amsterdam to Shanghai I saw a new tactic by someone I’d love to name and shame. Here we all were in a long queue, the Priority Lane I may add so this queue jumper had zero priority over anyone else in the lane.
The queue was maybe 50-60 people deep and had been formed for around 10 minutes. On arriving the guy didn’t like the look of this. However he did notice that there were some toilets to the right side near the front of the queue. So off he went to the toilet.
Once he came back out he lingered for a bit and I immediately could see what he was thinking. He stood for a few moments then gradually started moving towards the queue in front of him. In next to no time he’d manage to merge himself into the queue relatively close to the front. I wonder if he is maybe a professional queue jumper by such a sly tactic.
Last year a woman did leave me a little gob-smacked when she tried to push in to a queue I was in. We were in a small regional airport and the boarding call had been made. I was relatively close to the front of the queue whilst she was still sat down in a nearby seat in the waiting area.
She rose from her seat and since I was close by she came up to me saying “Excuse me is it okay if I join the queue here with you?”
I was astonished at her arrogance. There were maybe 30 people behind me already. Withholding my disbelief I politely declined her request and advised her to join the back of the queue. I still can’t believe to this day that she had the cheek not to form a queue from the back of the line.
Why do people feel obsessed to push in? You may get away with it because people are too polite to stand up to you. However you’ve aggrieved many and I can assure you that those people behind are cursing you. Why create such ill will?
When you think about it we have queue systems in all parts of life so why is it so alien to people?
If you telephone a company you are often told “You are in a queue” and your call will be answered in sequence. (I do get a big miffed when the call is always accompanied by “We are experiencing an exceptionally high level of calls at the moment” – which really means they are under resourced.)
Also many chemists / pharmacies around the world now have a ticket system. You collect your ticket and wait for the number on your ticket to be called. This is a way to form a queue. I wonder if this was introduced because there are so many ignorant people in the world that the traditional style does not work in a chemist?
So when is it okay to jump the queue?
Is there ever a good and appropriate time to push in? Well I suppose I’d like to say never but that is not the case.
It is okay to go to the front of the queue when the organisation you are queuing for (airline/ticket office/museum/shop etc) say it is okay to do so.
Believe it or not airlines deem it okay for me to go to the front of the queue. I am often qualified as having “Sky Priority” or “Preferred Boarding” status. This is either through my high status with a frequent flyer scheme or my Business Class ticket.
This explains why I get so miffed with people who push in when boarding a plane. My ticket cost 3-4 times the cost of theirs. One of the reasons my ticket cost more is because it entitles me to board before you. You may think I’m being snobby about this, maybe I am but the price paid for that ticket entitles me to board earlier than most other passengers.
So it is vexing to see some random ignore the order of boarding announcements, just slide up to the front then be declined by the boarding attendant. Then they just hover at the front of the queue rather than go to the back as they were instructed to do.
There are other times when you can go to the front of the queue. This can include the organisation assisting you, maybe you are disabled and someone helps you.
Also maybe the organisation deems you need more time or assistance so it helps them by helping you. This often happens when airlines say that families with young children can board the aircraft first.
As a Business Class traveller this can be quite comical at times in India. The vast majority of locals travel as families so you see maybe 60-70% of passengers boarding (as families) before Business Class passengers are called.
So what if you are late to make your flight? Or maybe you have ridiculous flight connections like I had with domestic flight connections in China.
In the past the supervising agent at the security check or ID queue would authorise you to proceed to the front. Some airports actually call out for passengers on certain flights to go directly to the front of the queue.
Yet I’ve seen a change which I think is ridiculous by the TSA in some US airports. They now say to these passengers with tight connections that they have to ask each and every person in front of them in the queue if they can go before them.
What a joke that is! It slows the process down, is very time consuming, inefficient. The passenger asking the question is highly stressed and uneasy with this. Many of the people in the queue are too. No doubt the TSA brought this in following experiences with different methods. Yet in spite of that, if someone in a uniform accompanies a passenger directly to the front of the queue (because they have a tight connection) then the rest of the people in the queue can see that.
Many airport staff in the US relish in the fact that their uniform is a sign of their status. If I see someone in a uniform accompany someone to the front of a queue then I know they have done that for a reason.
So I ask of you all. Please form a queue. Stick to the guidance of how to form a queue, stay in line and don’t queue jump. You’ll only anger the people you have moved ahead of. There is also the risk that someone will take exception to your actions and we might end up with an ugly scene.