Today wasn’t the first time I’ve told someone about queuing and it’ll likely not be the last. There I was, standing second from the from of the bus queue on my way home from work when three women wander up. At first they hang about looking at the bus tracker, this is fair enough, I have no problem with that, people want to see when the bus is due. Next I hear them talking about the 34 only being moments away and they make their way into the bus shelter from the front and position themselves beside me and the woman in front of me. One of the three women manages to get herself in between the myself and the woman in front.
So, I clear my throat and point out that there is a queuing system going on in the bus stop. I then move myself back to second in the queue. They apologise and move…but not to the back of the queue, to just stand behind me making themselves third (fourth and fifth too I suppose) and everyone else who was already behind them are now further down the queue.
I have slowly been noticing lately that less and less, people are not so much queuing for a bus but instead are “gathering”. Right there, at the front of the bus stop, there will be a gathering of people who arrive there knowing full well they shouldn’t be first to get on the bus but they’re going to damn well try!
Also there are those who loiter and then when their bus arrives they suddenly surge forward, eager to leap onto the bus before those who have been patiently queuing. The Loiterers probably annoy the Gatherers as well.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can understand that after a long day at work the last thing anyone wants to do is arrive at the bus stop and be twenty-ninth in a queue but please remember, the 28 other Queuers also feel the same way. The Queuer at 28 is as irritated about their queue position as anyone arriving to be twenty-ninth.
Anyway, arriving as the twenty-ninth Queuer is frustrating but it is, in no way, an excuse to suddenly become a Gatherer or a Loiterer in the hope of skiving forward a few places. What is likely to happen is a Gatherer or a Loiterer will find that the Queuers stick together and when boarding the bus they leave no spaces for a Gatherer or Loiterer to leap on and skive a Queuer.
Not all Gatherers and Loiterers are bad though. Some will acknowledge they weren’t first and will patiently wait until the Queuers are on and then they will get on. Some people Loiter because they are with a friend who isn’t boarding the bus so they want to stand away from other people and chat to their friend. That is acceptable loitering and hopefully those Loiterers would normally be Queuers and understand that they don’t have the right to just barge onto the bus.
Queuers though, are starting to acknowledge that the art of Queuing is becoming lost. Turning up and standing in line patiently is becoming a thing of the past. Bus companies will have to get rid of bus shelters and replace them with Gathering huts.
Back in the day (it may happen now but I haven’t heard it) if a bus was heaving the bus would stop and the driver (or even further back – the conductor) would shout “room for four” or however many seats or space for standing was left. Then the first four people in the queue would get on. Couldn’t happen these days! If the driver shouted “room for four” the first four Queuers and all the Gatherers and Loiterers would have a riot trying to get on!
The art of queuing, particularly at bus stops, seems to be dying but it’s death is not limited to them. Only the other day, while waiting patiently in a queue in M&S, a queue leap was attempted by a flicky-haired woman carrying several dresses. Waiting patiently, I was next to be served and along she comes. It went like this. She flicks her hair and steps in front of me. I’m thinking, at the time, she’s just nipping past but no, she has stopped. She is now next to be served but this only lasts 10 seconds because I have zipped around her, got back in front of her and said to her, “no, I don’t think so lady”. She tuts and flicks her hair, holds her nose in the air. I get served. Then she gets served, see, didn’t have to wait that long after all lovey! Only she isn’t just purchasing the dresses, she is asking the shop assistant if she thinks the dresses will fit her. The shop assistant gave her a horrified look, checked the sizes on the dress and asks her what size she is. “Ah, ten” says the woman with a flick of her hair. I glance at her as I lift my carrier bag and think “not on your nelly, love”. I glance at the people in the queue who look over-joyed that what was once two people serving, is now reduced to one while flicky hair woman decides if the dresses will fit her or not.
Anyway, to finish up. Are you a Gatherer, a Loiterer or a Queuer? And none of this really matters if you never take a bus…or buy dresses in M&S.
This is a proper bus queue, albeit in Hong Kong.