Jumping the queue
By Vivek Atray
The tendency to jump queues is not uniquely Indian but is clearly more evident in our land than anywhere else. We have all experienced the pain of standing in unending queues at railway stations; temples; admission counters and even hair cut salons. And these ever-longer lines just refuse to move forward. Thus it is commonplace to find several impatient and innovative individuals trying to use industrious methods to inch ahead!
Excuses that the queue-jumper proffers may vary, but the resultant glares from the rest of the pack are similar in most cases. An exception may be a pretty young thing or an elderly gentleman who, for obvious reasons, usually have their way!
Railway crossings provide another instance of our countrymen’s keenness to beat the rule bound ones and manoeuvre their vehicles to the ‘pole position’ even if that leads to a traffic impasse once the gates are opened.
And all of us have had the exasperating experience at one point or other in life when the seemingly shorter queue that we (cleverly) joined ends up taking longer than the longer one. At such times, in our haste to get ahead of the pack we end up getting delayed, which probably serves us right for thinking that we are very smart!
Queues that are figurative in nature are more interesting though. The craze to somehow procure ‘out of turn’ benefits has long been established in our society. Not for us Indians is the waiting game.
We are usually determined to find a way to shorten the gestation period of any venture that we undertake- The prized membership of a sought after club, passes to a cricket match or even a table at a restaurant!
Denizens of officialdom usually take pride in being able to arm twist people into letting them have their way. Thus it is not uncommon to spot a weighty uniform-clad fellow trying to impress upon a club manager the need for obliging his sahib with some extra passes for a forthcoming musical night!
And the scene at the venue of a forthcoming international cricket match usually defies description. The plight of the poor hapless fellow in the office who is responsible for handing out ‘VVIP’ passes is no laughing matter. He probably has nightmares for weeks afterwards in which sundry P.A.s and burly security-men pester him for passes from under his bed!
The scene at a local theatre just before the staging of a well known play was another case in point. A gentleman in a loud green suit was particularly noticeable in the queue to get in. He back slapped a few socialites to prove that he belonged. He then jumped the queue under some silly pretext and somehow emerged unscathed. What eventually let him down was the fact that a portly gentlemen appeared at the scene who was apparently his former boss. The latter settled in immovably on the seat hitherto reserved for the green-suited fellow, and our man had to remain standing for the whole duration of the show!