Monday, 12 April 2010

Oh, for the love of ... queuing!




As a child of another culture brought up in Britain, I have a view on certain aspects of life that are diametrically opposite.

For instance, queuing.

The typical asian mentality is a much more selfish affair where your own needs take priority, with no pity or support given to anyone else. If you see someone ahead of you holding others up, there will be no standing in silence, seeking out what the problem is etc. Instead what you see is a steam pressure slowly but surely reaching to critical point before bursting. However the touchpaper is very short, if at all existant, and comments will be fired and general murumur of discontent beings to rise. Not enough attendants is usually high on the list of comments which actually translates into "I should have a personal attendant just for me".
Also, in this dog eat dog world, queuing is definitely not what is required. Instead, what you must do is go straight to the front, to gain access to the required service. Only every person is also doing it. What you eventually end up with is a big bulbous crowd pivoting at the front and internal queues are sometimes developed within this mass. Selfishness isn't in their dictionary as it's not a term to describe a fellow asian - it's what they are!

Now contrast this with the British love for queuing. People would stand there in silence, waiting for their turn as all good things come to those that wait. No matter what happens in front, be it a robbery or child birth, their turn will eventually come. An orderly queuing system is created and due to the service levels, they've developed snaking lines that manage to pack in 5x the number of people in the space that is humanly possible which can deceive the casual passer-by. The epitome of civilised and orderly society.

When these two different mindsets come together, the rule of thumb tends to be the winner - the man with the largest voice has the say. So you get the more forceful people pushing their way to the front, demanding the service they are due whilst the rest just look in silent disdain and continue to wait, not understanding what these people are thinking. Such barbaric and uncouth behaviour still exists in the world?

So there I stand, in a queue at a bank with 10 or so ahead of me. There's only 3 attendants at the desks and for whatever reason, it is taking them several minutes just to get cash out. Why couldn't they just use the cash machine outside if they're just withdrawing money? You can get a statement printed there too! Oh well, I'll just carry on waiting.
I realise there are several couples ahead of me. Bonus. Fewer sets of people needing the attendants, things are looking up.
10 minutes and 1 metre later, one of the attendants leaves her desk to call her manager over for assistance to a man who is clearly vexed at how difficult they can make the simplest of requests but has no other choice but to stand there, embarrassed at the knowledge that he is holding up a fair number of people but powerless to do anything as his card is across the inch thick glass protecting the attendants from a slap of common sense. Still, my turn will come.
Some people have lost the will to survive at a conscious level and remain there in idle mode with just rudimentary survival techniques, such as breathing, operating. So much so that others have to wake them and direct them to an available attendant - I do not begrudge these people as my conciousness has walked out the bank 15minutes ago and probably tucked in bed by now.
As I walk around to the first line of the queuing snake, I see someone who has walked through 20minutes of her life to get to the moment where they speak to the attendant only to not have filled in the deposit form and so is busy filling out the form at the front, taking valuable space and time - just why the hell would you not fill this in before? It's not as if you didn't pass the mini table with all the forms, calculators and handy pen.. what did you think that was for? D├ęcor? Some people are so inconsiderate or just plain thick - they need to have a license to be allowed a bank account, it will make life a lot easier!
The joyous sound of the robotic voice directing to a free slot comes, I hope to hear more of these in quick succession - my time will surely come soon. As another slot becomes free and a young woman starts to walk, an Asian man comes in from nowhere to the front and tells the woman "sorry but this will be quick, I've got my car parked at front .. this will only take 1 minute. OK? Thanks" and gives his details to the attendant whilst the woman stands there stunned and her brain tries to process what just happened. Who on earth does this man think he is?! And what kind of excuse was that?! The cheek! However all's fair if you can get away with it.. no-one has complained so might as well do it.. wish I had the balls to do that, would save a lot of time!
Finally my time has come, I am at the pinnacle of the queue! One of the person finishes and leaves and I'm standing there like a sprinter in the block to move at the first sound of the robot. I'm still standing. Still standing. Why am I still standing? Then the blinds come down on the free desk, or should that be ex-free desk? Out of the 6 desks, which were only half manned, another has shut?! What kind of service is this?! And what is with my luck?!

At last my turn does appear - as I always knew it would and I go and make my transactions and it dawns on me... I have the explosive temperament of an Indian but tempered by the British culture - waiting diligently in a queue but with silent fury rising inside, able to burst at the seams and bound to give me a heart attack - the worst of both worlds! I can either go through life threatening moments everytime I enter a queue here or just get walked all over in India!

Where do you lie in the spectrum?

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