Minding Your P’s and Queues

To a rank and uninformed outsider,India would seem to be a land of snakes,their charmers,rogue elephants,cattle herds running amok between traffic,BPOs,Bollywood,stench,paan spittle,uneven roads,sometimes no roads at all….The list goes on.But there’s something which every Indian is familiar with.And studiously ignores as well.

A queue.

Defined as “a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed” by the Oxford English Dictionary,it simply means a waste of time for us.Why should we stand in a queue?A queue is for people who are too meek to get their way.Survival of the fittest,said Darwin.We took it literally.Pushing and shoving one another to get to the front of a line,if any,requires an amazingly fit body and an even fitter mind.In order to survive the surge of humanity bearing down upon you,you need all your mental faculties in place.

We recently went on a trip to Shirdi.To say that we survived the trip unscathed is a testimony of God’s presence.I became a believer.

A queue,did you say? Uff yaar,time waste.We’re extremely time conscious.For a 7 pm wedding reception,we’ll always be two hours late.Not more,mind you.Only two hours.Queues also mean having to wait till your turn arrives.Wait a minute.Wasn’t patience a virtue with all Indians?Then why this cribbing?Because though we have ample training in patience,we have also acquired a PhD in Me-First.How can another person get served before me?No way.And off you go,jumping queues like kangaroos in a hurry.

Queue cutters are looked upon with awe.They are masters of the jumping movement.You can easily spot them in a queue.They’re the ones with a gleam in their eyes,a twitch in their arms and constantly crane their necks to find that tiny gap in the queue.It only takes a second for these jumpers to make their move.The person in front of them will never know what hit him.He’ll stand gaping like a goldfish while the jumper merrily saunters ahead,wearing a smug expression on his face.No amount of protest will work with them.The high decibels emanating from their throats and the Hulk-like demeanor will subdue the poor protestor within minutes.

Many interesting characters are found in queues.The watch-checker,who sighs and shifts feet with every passing minute to indicate his importance;the gossip who delightfully recounts the events of the day before to anyone who shows a slight sliver of interest;the harried mother with an increasingly irritable toddler;the surly office worker who has sacrificed her lunch break to get the work done;anxious college going souls who have just managed to make the deadline for their exam form receipts.

A queue is something which has always been around and will never go away.Wouldn’t it be infinitely better if we started minding our pleases and thank-“queues”?

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