Queuing at the supermarket checkout, for the cashpoint, for the bus, the bank at lunchtime when it’s down to one member of staff or for a coffee fix where the barista is making a theatrical performance from froth, steam and cocoa powder. In a fast-paced world, this has come to be expected and is an indelible part of British society.
Nowadays the fashion to queue for pretty much everything we do has become relentless.
However, sleeping rough overnight for the January Sales, music ticket or latest Apple gadget, is this a step too far? Does the anticipation for a product, bargain or special night out warrant taking the art of queuing to a surrealist level? Sometimes it has to be seen to be believed, a tight line, packed like sardines in a tin, in one secluded area, whereby all around … is space!
Does seducing with limited amounts prove the theory of ’you want what you can’t have’? Devising these behavioural patterns through the craving for consumables is only a recent ploy but appears to be working very successfully. But do we really enjoy it? Does it make what we are queuing for more valuable?
Conversely, to be ‘on the list’ at a trendy nightclub or in a VIP area and avoid the queue is the name of game. The power of beating the queue is fascinating, like taking the red carpet, brushing with a brief encounter of importance.
70 years ago ladies queued for their rations and that would be forgiven when living necessities were at the end of the line. The process was justified by a given attitude to ‘Stay in line, do your duty and take your turn’ as in the spirit of WW II itself. The history of queuing harks back to times of extreme hardship, handouts and charity or of low social-standing and obedience which requires control.
So how has the turnaround managed to be so full circle? Today, we are queuing for luxury items or exclusivity, like a preverbal carrot being dangled at the consumer, which changes the impetus in a slightly sinister manner.
It’s amazing how we stand in line when faced with a perception that’s ‘what we have to do’, no questions asked, we just join the queue and shuffle forward periodically.
I suppose at the end of the day, it’s all about fairness. That in itself is a British characteristic, exhibiting a level of decency and with the notion that all good things come to those who wait