Tips For Surviving Queues And Long Waiting Periods

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Pablo Edronkin

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Queues and long waiting times may appear when there is a product of service in very high demand for which there is a very low processing capacity; this happens in the case of artistic and sports events, bureaucratic tasks or duties, the collapse of banking and financial institutions, badly managed electoral events, etc.

In some cases, the appearance of queues is a momentary issue while in others they may be part of the workings of a society. In communist countries it was common to have long queues for almost everything. Whenever airports close for unexpected reasons like very bad weather, queues also appear. Queues may be the result of panic, such as when foreigners try to get out of a country at war, or investors trying to get out their money from banks after rumours abound on their lack of solvency. These social formations, if we may call them like that are seldom lethal for the people waiting, albeit stampedes and cases of panic may occur in extreme situations. Nevertheless, they mean the loss of valuable time, they tend to anger people and could end in chaos, mobbing or protests. Thus, to have a better time in a queue ere we present some tips:

Always take with you some sort of entertainment; books are the best ones but anything portable will do.

Carry your cell phone with you; in this manner, you may call some other member of your family to replace you for a while after you have spent some hours in the queue.

Take good note of the people immediately in front and in the back of you; for every queue there is someone who believes to be smarter than the rest and who will try to take advantage of those waiting patiently and honestly. In an extreme example of this there is a historical case: As the British were evacuating Crete, there was no room for every soldier in the ships that came to the rescue. Everybody knew that some would fall prisoners of the German parachutists that were invading the island. So. The British soldiers formed very long queues in the ports and beaches that they still controlled, and to avoids queue fraudsters, they grabbed the belts or pants or shirts of the soldiers right in front of them, like forming a human train.

A folding chair may be handy in some cases. For overnight stays, a sleeping bag could be advisable. In the case of very long queues or extended waiting periods you should prepare yourself like if you were to go on a camping trip.

In the case of extended waiting periods, you should arrange replacements after a few hours with other members of your family. Just remember that if what is at stake is a personal business, the one - i.e. you - interested in having things done should be at the proper time at the queue.

If you think that the bureaucrats that make you wait so long are stupid people, you are right; they are, and they are also sadistic. Don't feel sorry for them.

Long waiting periods and apparent complications are sometimes orchestrated on purpose by bureaucrats expecting bribes to return things to a normal course.

In countries where long queues become the norm and part of daily life, all sorts of entrepreneurs appear, from those selling food and beverages to those waiting to authentic queue experts that for a fee may wait in your place. Other offers, not always legitimate or legal may appear, as people offering faster tramitations thorough alleged friends inside the office that is the target of the queue, people that might do the whole work for you and those that even offer false papers that could be used in place of the authentic ones, supposedly saving you the time and complications implicit in long queues.

Be very careful because queues with a lot of people are ripe fields for all sorts of thieves and criminals.

Waiting in highly controlled places like airports imply that every passenger and person waiting in a queue is being observed by security agents that are not necessarily in the same hall or room. No insecurity or nervousness should be demonstrated or otherwise, a detention for an inquiry might follow.

Never have much expectations about the intellectual prowess, good will or intelligence of the bureaucrat standing or sitting at the end of the line: those posts are usually assigned to the most mediocre bureaucrats of all and frequently to persons that really enjoy being sadistic with those waiting, especially if they perceive that they are of a higher socio-economic level. One way to gain their good will is to call them "officers" despite the fact that they might well be the last and stupidest corporal or employee. True officers or leaders very rarely do such menial work but the word very often enlightens the little mind. You can also act like someone deaf, stupid, with very bad breath or with little understanding of what is said; simulating some sort of illness also works. If the bureaucrat believes that you will take a lot of time to process, he or she will let you go more easily because there is probably still a lot of work to do. Just make sure that your acting is believable. One of my grandfathers was a college professor during Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union. Whenever he had to go to any sort of government office he prepared himself for days: He didn't wash or took a bath or shaved, or brushed his teeth. To make sure that his presence became sufficiently unpleasant not only to avoid being looked as an intellectual at a time in which that was a big no-no, but also to become pleasingly unpleasant so that bureaucrats would beg to get rid of him as soon as possible.

If a bureaucrat strives to make your life a little bit more miserable, do the same unto him or her; at least you will feel better. Passive resistance can do marvels.

In some countries of the former communist bloc people used to go out from their homes with something that they knew as a "maybe;" which was a very simple bag for shopping. Since communist economy proved a major failure right from the beginning and goods were scarce all the time, when a queue was formed, folks just went behind it just in case something was being sold or distributed.

Long queues and complicated bureaucratic procedures speak volumes about the lack of respect for citizens and the efficiency needed in any society for it to work properly. In other words: A country with too much bureaucracy doesn't work well despite whatever its leaders might say. In such societies, the black market, as we described, begins to appear as long as the people realise that alternatives to the unending hell of queues could exist, and really, there is nothing bad per se about any sort of black market despite its sinister name, because if it offers better services and time savings despite an initial higher cost, that's the route that you should take in order to survive.

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