Standing in a queue

It requires patience, discipline, self-respect, and respect for others

Tajamul Hussain

hoosyn50@gmail.com

You can be standing in front of a door of an ATM machine. Someone will brazenly walk right in front of you as the previous person exits the vestibule. He’ll pretend not to see you…until you stop him! The fellow may express his sorrow or try to be on your head, within the vestibule flouting the privacy required for operating your bank account. He may even cajole you into operating your transaction and suggesting the amount of cash you should draw. Tell this fellow to refrain, and he’ll simply be with his hackles up to dismiss it with scorn.

Standing in a queue requires patience, discipline, self-respect, and respect for others. It calls for a strong belief in the existence of good and fair play. The turmoil that a person goes through is unmatched. When you see your life going at a glacial speed and to know, that even after hours of patient waiting, you’re still not the first in line, all hell wants to break loose. But then the sanity prevails amidst all the pushing and shoving, or else one may lose the privileged spot that he occupies and may be sent back to square one. Life is a cruel thing for everyone in the queue and the willingness to get over it’s what gives people the strength to stand in it for hours while the discomfort, one is facing rises with every minute. This is more so when one is made to stand in a queue without any ‘personal space’ that has evolved over the ages to keep at bay transgressors that are always looking for breaks in the queue.

Everyone amongst us has had to go through the ordeal of standing in the queue at some point in time or the other. It may be an everyday story once people in India wake up in the morning and are off to catch a bus to college or office… (but it’s definitely not so in our beautiful valley). When people get on the bus, to buy a ticket, they’re again waiting in the queue. Indians on average spend 12% of their lives in the queues. This however doesn’t include the time that takes in commuting before they reach the tail end of the queue. The world records in the queue whether the longest, the fastest, the most patient queue, all belong to India. Queuing is such a national trait that the Indian athletes are invariably found in the queue to finish. Whether it’s the union cabinet standing in a queue to send-off or to welcome the president or prime minister the queue is everywhere.

The extreme hatred for standing-in-the-queue is something unique with us Kashmiris. Perhaps because of the grasping propensity to profit by the industry of someone else without we ourselves producing anything (ditto the bird-of-prey does when it swoops down upon the toiling kingfisher and takes from it by force the fish it has wrested from the waves by the exercise of his strength and talents) perversion of the economy has gone deep into our DNA. As the strong belief in the existence of good and fair play is simply lacking, a typical Kashmiri cannot think of wasting time in a queue. jhot gov padshah.

The rare exception of standing in the queue was the claustrophobic type forced upon the 3rd class cine-goers in our childhood in the famous ‘iron cage’ of the Palladium cinema in the center of Lal Chowk, Srinagar. No sooner did the ticket-vendor open the window to sell tickets than a dozen or so of mustachioed hooligans suddenly appeared from somewhere to leap across heads in the cage to worm their way atop tens of the queued heads in the cage to the ‘counter’ to walk away with a wad of tickets to be later sold in ‘black’ to the same disgruntled lot that was imprisoned for hours in the narrow cage. Much to the disappointment of the people waiting in the queue; the shutter at the ticket counter would suddenly and unexpectedly close down.

Multiple queues follow the Murphy’s Law, “Whatever queue you join, no matter how short it looks, will always take the longest for you to get served” and thus, it’s safer to stay put in one’s queue rather than go around looking for a quicker way to get to your goal. Bala laws state that;

The length of the queue is inversely proportional to the time you have to stand in the one.

You discover you’re in the wrong queue only when you reach the counter.

You always reach the counter at lunchtime or closing time.

When you reach the counter in time the tickets are over.

When you do get the tickets they are the wrong ones and therefore; a) you’ve to go to the tail end of the queue to get them changed or b). You’ve to go to the refund counter where 1 and 2 apply

When there are no obstacles, the queue moves quickly and when you buy the right ticket the teller has no change.

The teller always has his say.

The other queue always moves faster.

When you switch to the other queue the original queue gathers momentum.

When you’re finally the second person in the queue the guy in front of you develops a complicated problem that takes half an hour to sort out.

When others jump the queue no one says anything. When you jump the queue hoots and jeers follow.

Everyone in the queue will want to borrow your pen; when you want a pen no one will have one.

You’re always caught napping when they open an extra counter.

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