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Tuesday, 12 April 2016


A few years ago, maybe ten or more, supermarkets embarked on a queuing campaign that promised no more than two people waiting in front of you to be served. Any more than two and another checkout would be opened immediately. It didn't work, of course, but it was one of those gimmicky things to kid the customer that he/she was loved, would be cared for and waiting times would be cut dramatically.

Fast forward to today and most supermarkets are pretty crap at checkout management. Customers are expected to queue and customers expect to queue, so there is an unspoken mutual understanding that service in this regard is not high on the agenda. It's about wage costs and fewer staff. It is also about self-service checkouts.....but sod them.

Move on to airports where queuing is at epidemic levels (I can use words like epidemic because, like some news media, it adds emphasis). Last Sunday I was at Faro airport with my wife. We queued to check-in, not a long queue, so okay. We then joined an enormous queue to security. We got through that piece of necessary palaver. We sat in a lounge area. I fancied a cup of coffee. I joined a long queue at Costa Coffee, watching and listening to people up ahead discussing which panini to have, pontificating over muffins, pondering which flavour coffee to have and allowing themselves the licence to order and then change their minds. "Get a bloody move on," screamed a voice in my head.
Our flight was called. We joined a long queue at the gate.We got through that check. We joined another queue to take us to the plane. We joined another queue to get up the steps. We waited behind people trying to stuff their oversized holdalls into the overhead shelf. We sat down. Buckled up. The plane joined a queue of planes waiting to take off. We took off. We landed. We joined a queue to get off the plane. We got off and joined a queue at passport control. We got through. We waited at the luggage carousel. We got our luggage, got to the car, drove out of the car park onto the M1 and, yes there is a God, no queue. Traffic flowing beautifully.

Cue (geddit?) a Roger McGough poem I remember from way back:

If I've breached any rules in reprinting this poem, I'll remove it. But it seems to be in the public domain."


I join the queue
We move up nicely.

I ask the lady in front
What are we queuing for.
'To join another queue,'
She explains.

'How pointless,' I say,
'I'm leaving.' She points
To another long queue.
'Then you must get in line.'

I join the queue.
We move up nicely. 
Roger McGough

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