Queue Jumpers

In the few months that I have lived in India, I have come to understand how the human brain works. Or at least I hope I do. I am still figuring it out. The world is a complex place. Let me correct that. The world is a simple place. It’s the human beings that live on it, that are complex. Greed, Lust, Corruption etc. at the most basic levels turn human beings into animals. Comparing lowly actions of humans to animals is an insult to animals. Before you raise those eyebrows of yours, allow me to elaborate.

I had gone to Kolkata as my husband had to apply for the Australian visa. While he had gone to the main office to submit his documents, I stood in a queue to grab a seat. The seats were mostly filled by elderly people who were applying for visas to visit their sons and daughters settled abroad. For half an hour, I did what any youngster would do in presence of an elder. Offered my spot to them which they readily grabbed. As time passed, it started getting more crowded and now I could see more middle-aged ladies. One of them promptly planted herself in front of me. I assumed that she presumed the queue was for the visa process even though any person with eyes could see that the queue that I was the leader of, led to sofas. With a smile as sweet as honey, I politely informed her that she was standing in front of the wrong line if she wanted to visit her son abroad. Laughing at my ignorance, she proudly proclaimed that she knew the line was for seats which she was in dire need of. If I could, I would have exploded into the Hulk. Such hypocritical aunties will lie about their age at counters and offices and license documents and birth certificates. But when it came to a sofa spot, they would fling the mask away and reveal the wrinkles and the backache that comes with age. Suddenly I was getting shoved from the back and I realised to my horror that the old people were jumping queues. I felt I was the only one who was raised with etiquettes. These were the same people would click their tongues at youngsters for wearing shorts and having little patience but oh look how the tables have turned. The attitude disgusted me. If these old and middle-aged people were so flawed in basic human behaviour, how did they expect the youngsters to be anything but impatient while waiting in queue?

A day later, my husband and I were at the airport waiting at the security check when a girl slightly older than me barged through the queues, exclaiming “excuse me, excuse me”. Without waiting to be excused, she rushed to the start of the line, got her baggage checked and ran to whichever portal of hell such idiots fly to. Not a moment had passed when two other girls in their late 20’s, calmly jumped the queue, got their baggage checked and were well on their way. I was already seeing red but now even my husband couldn’t hide his annoyance at such blatant “I couldn’t care less but I am going first” attitude so he loudly exclaimed to me “Kuch log padhaayi likhaayi karke usko waste karte hain. School jaate hain lekin line mein lagna nahi seekhte” (Some people just waste their education. They go to school and yet don’t know how to wait in queues.)” The girls, even if they heard , and they would have, made no sign or effort whatever to correct themselves. These line jumpers have certain characteristics that I would like to list down below so the next time you encounter them: it’s easier to spot them.

  1. They come in all varieties of shapes, forms, genders and age categories.
  2. Mostly they shall start by gently nudging you from behind as if you have committed some mistake such as heavens forbid, jumped the queue. This gentle nudge will turn into a firm nudge where their elbows will overtake yours.
  3. Their body will slowly start appearing until you can see them in your lateral view. They are now by your side.
  4. Then they shall take advantage of your innocent look and innocently but shamelessly stand in front of you being very careful not to meet your eye.
  5. And that’s how the subtle art of jumping the queue is done.
  6. Others usually just come and stand in front of you and will turn a deaf ear to your protests.
  7. While many others will just come barraging from behind excusing themselves like they own the place or are in dire need of using a toilet up ahead.

The Brits are amazing at this. They vouch that if you have patience to stand in a queue, you won’t have to stand much longer. Things go by smoothly and your work is done more efficiently.

Indians, you might want to learn a bit or two from your colonial masters.