Frustration is a terrible thing, particularly if coupled with self-importance. Take, for example, the stroppy business-suited blonde I encountered this morning.
Let me set the scene: Monday morning trains are usually late/delayed/packed and arrive out of schedule, so it’s quite normal to arrive at the station and find a train has just rumbled underneath the bridge and is sitting there whilst passengers creep onto it (into it?). This usually prompts an athletic display of stair-stumbling, down the 20 or so steps to the platform, that ends with an Indiana Jones style last-minute dive between the rapidly closing doors. This morning was no different, and so I sat on the train ticketless. We arrive at Glasgow Central and spew forth, all eager little puppies, bounding happily towards the grindstone, or rather jaded thirty-somethings who are considering any last ditch excuses to save them from yet another working week (“Sorry, my right arm was amputated at the weekend… whaddya mean ‘well you can type with your left’!!!”)
As one we surge… ok plod.. to the top of the stairs and let out a small moan. Yes, the ticket collectors await, the queue is formed and we all start silently cursing the people who don’t have cash and want to add 10 seconds to the transaction by paying with plastic. Of course we don’t grumble too much as it all helps to delay that cheery hello from the security guard as we spin through the revolving doors into the office lobby. Then, snapping us out of our mumblings, strides stroppy business-suit woman. Heels clicking furiously as she marches past the queue to one of the awaiting ticket collectors.
“I’m sorry, I’m terribly busy and I must get to work” she says. Or something like that, I did catch the words “very busy” for certain.
The ticket collector points to the queue but no, she’s shaking her head, that won’t do at all. He is insistent, as is she, and this little tête-à-tête goes on long enough to allow the rest of my queue-buddies to turn and nod knowingly at each other: “Some people eh.. ” “there’s always one” “we are ALL busy!”. How expressive we can be without saying a word.
As one we will the ticket collector, psychically passing the collective message: “Do not let her pass!”
He doesn’t. Unfortunately she doesn’t throw her briefcase down and start stamping her feet, which would’ve been much more satisfying, instead she gives the modern equivalent by turning on her heel and marching to the end of the queue, whilst digging out her mobile phone as if nothing has happened.
The satisfaction of knowing that we are still below street level and her phone won’t work gives my morning enough of a lift to make the day passable.
Of course I should be discussing the vagaries of the British Queue, but they’ve been well documented before and we’ve all stood in them so really.. what’s the point?
Although I will say this: a queue is wonderful at providing a sense of shared purpose. A “we’re all in this together” team spirit that many a manager or coach would love to find. Maybe that’s why football players queue to get on the pitch?