Right behind me, not beside me

queue Right behind me not beside me

I don’t see what’s so difficult to understand. This is my spot in the line and you need to stand behind me.. Not beside me. Not to the right nor to the left, but behind me in the line

A smart lady (in looks and brains) shouted out in exasperation at the slightly overweight man trying to sneak up beside her in the line. Lazywiz almost fell in love with this sensible lady, and I was pretty smitten too. We were horribly late, stuck in queue at an airport. The said queue wasn’t the one outside the gate where the policeman in charge checks your identification and neither was this at the airlines’ counter or the security check. This was a weird in-between never ending line to have your luggage scanned.

While this guy unsuccessfully tried the standard maneuver to move closer and ultimately sneak past the person in front, another extremely loud women with 4 massive suitcases, 4 crying children and a thin harassed porter, stormed to the front of our line and started to throw her luggage onto the conveyor belt. Ironically, there was a group of Buddhist monks whose turn it would have been next, but this woman cut right through, and unlike our idol lady the monks didn’t fight for their rightful place.

You know, I really thought it would get better with time, only sadly, it didn’t.

So, the next airport while we were right at the boarding gate of a different plane and Lazywiz was leaning against a barricade, this really smart couple behind me whispered between themselves. “Maybe, we should just cut across. Obviously that guy doesn’t want to board the plane“.

Right! We were right in the middle of the line that was waiting to board the plane that had landed seconds before, and just because there was more than a 1 feet distance between us and the honeymooning couple in front of us, the people behind us made the highly informed decision of our motives on our behalf. No, if we weren’t practically towering over the people in front of us (in what was an absolutely staionary line at this point) then obviously we didn’t have any intention of getting onto the plane. Maybe they thought we wanted to waste everyones time, or preferred strolling at crowded airports, standing stuck at boarding gates. But, no, we didn’t really want to take that flight, because we weren’t literally standing alongside the person before us in the queue.

The story progressively got more exciting.

This time we were in another queue ,at another airport, trying to get ourselves boarding tickets. Lazywiz was busy making friends with the little girl sipping a Frooti behind us while I was staring moodily out in space. It had been a long day. Out of nowhere materialized this guy with a young mother and her child and parked the stroller right beside us. You didn’t just misread. The preposition (if that is what it is) is correct. Beside, not behind.

So now, the mother behind me (who was expecting herself) started to reason out with the young mother beside me. She wanted the new arrivals to move behind her, instead of having the line fork out into two. The guy claimed the line would still work first in first out, only the young mother and her kid would stand next to me and Lazywiz as they had more room there. Things got messy when more people came and decided which place they wanted to stand, but I’ll skip some pain of recollection and spare you the details.

Finally, I thought to myself, maybe this is an airport phenomenon. Like India has a democratic system, a pretty rigid caste system, an extensive postal system, similarly there is this whole concept of a unique queue system. The one behind you in line, would just basically stand next to you.

So, I told myself, there are more serious things to worry about if worry is what I wanted to do. Or I could distract myself and just don’t care. To distract ourselves we went to this huge mall. A multiplex theatre that had pricey tickets. We picked a movie which we sort of ended up liking (Tamasha.. in case you were curious).

Lazywiz went and stood at the ticket counter in order to get us tickets.

A boy, with his girlfriend in tow, came up and leaned against the counter to the right. Inspired by the smart lady from anecdote number 1, Lazywiz tried to get the boy to take a few steps back. He just shrugged and gestured towards Lazywiz’s left side. There a group of guys were hovering trying to get a space to Lazywiz’s  left. Lazywiz was quite sandwiched by this point. The only positive being, obviously, there was no one actually behind Lazywiz at this point, only beside.

Flanked on both the sides, by people who probably knew what a queue means in theory, but not in practice, I watched Lazywiz purchase our movie tickets and decided that it was time to come home and write a post about this.

Maybe this will now make me feel better.



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  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    You have forgotten to mention the Question Askers, the worst of the questions jumpers foreme. Those people who pretend to ask a question, and never leave your side. They thank you just before its your turn and go into the counter or through the check in before you. He’ll knows no fury, like a woman witnessing such a blatant queue jumping. If looks coul kill…but alas, even that is not possible. It would create too many delays and i need to paper a smile over my enraged features to deal with whatever official that is in front of me.

    George Orwell used to say that the British would have the foreign observers struck by their willingness to firm queues. I remember being in Rome, in a famous department store and noticing a few Brits standing on the right when taking the escalators, while the rest of us took no notice if people around us…

    For me queue jumping is the on the same level as the fights in the car…the worst situations to be in. There is no limit to how worse it can get and you have to grin and bear it, wishing, praying, imploring, begging for just a little respite…

    I have enjoyed this piece so much. I wanted to laugh as i remembered feeling the same whilst queuing at airports.

    Now, queuing at the post office, i just remembered that I have a couple of questions. I need to ask someone…ah the lady at the front of the queue looks helpful…

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      January 14, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Am laughing while reading your reply.. Asking questions and cutting through.. aah how did I miss that one. Now I am so tempted and go back to add it. Haven’t been to Europe, but US is also similar. People actually wait multiple steps away from the counter giving the person in front space. I often wonder how the mindset of an entire nation is such! hehe hehehe Hope you managed to get your innocent questions answered at the post office.. Thanks for reading.. And thank you so much albmum14 for hanging around at the brew. Brightens our day for sure.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    You have managed to turn a common, sometimes unbearable frustrating experience into an amusing almost philosophical musing. Yeah, that parked along the parallel, forking the line phenomenan is my personal favorite, experienced more times than I would care to count. And if ever i dared to raise my voice against this injustice, the responses have ranged from are-you-talking-to-me glare to righteous wrath… Oh and if-you-are-not-standing-on-top-of-the-person-infront-of-you, you-must-not-be-a-part-of-the-line is a close second.

    The funny part is that growing up in Pakistan, there really was no concept of queues. There was more a sort of convergence on the object of desire, be it the ticket window of a theater or the payment counter of a department store. Hands extended from all sides… and the person on the other side would have his pick, which one he wanted to tend to first. As I write this, I am thinking about that after a long time. Really there was no frustration in being part of that crowd, more a sense of adventure and then achievement when you actually accomplished your mission.

    So why is it that disruption of organization frustrates more than complete chaos? Is it because disappointment in face of expectation hurts more than no expectation at all?

    Fabulously written, Rhea! Laughed my way through your post. Hope it did make you feel better.

    P.S. Still grinning!

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      January 14, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Saman, yes writing this definitely made me feel better and so did your comments. Am glad could make you laugh. To think of it, the whole setup is so bad that it has become funny. I completely get your memory of no queue, but “convergence on the object of desire”.. brilliantly put! Interesting theory that when there is no expectation then there is no indignation. Crazy crowds at a counter might just mean fight our way through, but this so called intelligent manipulation and disregard for decency really hurts. Thank you for joining these discussions here at the brew. It is great fun having you here.

  • Reply
    Archana popli
    January 15, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Very aptly put .its not only in India it’s also in the us especially at the grocery store and mall during Xmas and holidays ,

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      January 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks Archana.. Good to see you. haha ya I was so amazed to see the crowds in the shops during the holiday season. It was quite like the movies. Still, these airports had no deadline just a blatant disregard for the definition of a line.

  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    January 18, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    “The only positive being, obviously, there was no one actually behind Lazywiz at this point, only beside.” brilliant.

    i hope it did make you feel better, i could feel your bated angry breath, the snarl struggling in your throat… and poor lazywiz, not his fault he is too civilised to take on the side queuers or should i honour the prep and say the beside queuers.

    lovely piece, rhea, so glad you had a hard time.

    taking the mundane to humour and then beyond…i love it.

    the queue actually doesn’t exist in our consciousness, our frame of ref, we are the thrilled with the jugaad attitude, me first folks… we don’t care about what’s right or not, our lives are too tough and we shall show our don’t care about it all by breaking every norm and rule we can. politeness is for pussycats, we are loins ji loins.

    i love the idol lady and the mothers at loggerheads… then you have the explainers who are basically trying to dupe you since you look decent enough to let it pass… noblesse oblige and all that. if it makes ya feel better, the non queue at the indian embassy to see the bade saab here is exactly as saman recalls, a thrum around the saab who is above it all, hands extended and waving in desperation/supplication/who knows what, then saab ji picks a soul and the crowd stands back, only to converge again the moment it can.

    when i came here and saw the order of the queue, it was like a revelation to me, a powerful solution to all probs real and otherwise. where there’s a queue there’s a way… so, just recalling an airport queue from my early years.

    got into the airport, looked around, where should i head for check in… never occurred to me to check the huge electronic board.. instead my eyes fell on a queue. ah, that must be it. i went and stood there, behind of course not beside the one in front. it was reassuringly long, how could it be wrong. it wasn’t, i was. that was not the queue for my flight… but how not to stand there, tell me. 🙂

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      January 24, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Hahaha “reassuringly long” queue.. Is there really such a thing? Thank you so much for the nice long comment Indi di. Humour? When I was there, rolling my eyes at the queue breakers, that word was far from my mind. But, when I started to write I realised this whole system is funny. Atrociously so. Enjoyed putting it in words.. And now beware people-who-make-me-mad-enough-to-scream.. they will end up in my ‘humourous’ articles here.. **low resonating evil laugh**

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