The law of queues


Growing up, we have all been exposed to different laws. The laws of Science and Math. But there is one law that doesn’t conform to any logic. I call it the Law of Queues.

From what I have noticed the Law of Queues works on the principle of ‘individual aggravation’. The Law watches where you stand in any queue and then kicks into action. All queues around you move at jet speed, while your queue moves at the slowest snail’s pace.

I have had my share of woes with this law. A few years ago, after a wonderful holiday, we were in line to check-in. And there was just one person ahead of us in the line. When it was our turn, the lady at the counter put a COUNTER CLOSED sign and walked away, much to our irritation.  It was only much later that we discovered that the flight that had been sent for us had a smaller capacity, and hence could take only a limited number of people. And that number was reached after the man before us in the queue checked in!

Courtesy – iStock

This weekend we were at a mall to buy a few home appliances. Once we had paid, we were directed to a particular aisle from where we had to pick up our stuff.

The Law of queues  must have watched us walking down. The line snaked on and on. We wondered why. We soon found out that the store offered this service of checking if every appliance was functioning ok.

We resigned ourselves to the long wait. Thanks to smartphones we managed to use the time well, without crying out in frustration.

Clucks of exasperation could be heard on and off. And finally we were at the magical number two.  But we found out that the person before us had many, many things to check.

We watched in silence, and patiently awaited our turn. When we moved to first place, we could almost feel the eyes of ‘number three’ boring holes into us. There were some muted groans and clucks.

But queues move. Life moves on….

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10 Responses to The law of queues

  1. I call it Murphy’s Law when reaching the head of the line and the clerk puts the “closed” sign up in front of me. Technology makes us impatient, and I know I have to learn to slow down even when I ‘need’ to hurry up. Good luck the next time you’re in line. ღ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. so well described…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Waiting is the worst but it seems a fate we must resign to.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked this…interesting and described perfectly

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Over the years, I have made some observations regarding this:

    1. “Express” lane is a misnomer.

    2. There is an inverse relationship between the number of items purchased and the use of credit card… which is so annoying since they cpuld have easily paid for them with cash and be done with it.

    3. The more people in lines, the less the counters that are open.

    4. If you left a long queue for a shorter one, the queue that you left will finish first.

    There are lots of research being done about queue theory but most of the assumptions that they employ barely consider the real world (like economics…).

    Liked by 1 person

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