We all know that to be British is to queue. Isn’t one of the jokes about us that, if there was only one British person waiting, they’d still form an orderly line?
But what has happened to our queuing techniques of late? We seem to be holding places for other people and it’s ticking me off.
My eldest two spent a good 20 minutes patiently waiting in line at the weekend for an activity at the HMS Sultan Show in Gosport (which was, as ever, great – thank you nice navy people who stand there and answer endless questions about lifeboats, helicopters and Harrier controls and then pick up all the litter).
Then, just as my offspring were getting to the front of the queue, with just one person to go ahead of them, that one person waved frantically and two other people appeared to ‘join’ him.
That’s not fair, is it? If teenagers did that to your kids, you’d be peeved. If someone did it at a bar, or when you were waiting to buy tickets for an event, that’d be naughty.
No-one ever tries it at a supermarket in quite such a brazen way, although I have been caught out once or twice by shoppers who have a legion of helpers swirling around the store collecting miscellaneous items to throw in at the last minute, slowing my own route through the till.
But why is it that we stand there and take this? I watched my kids and the look of confusion which swept across their faces, followed by frustration and the resigned politeness of grinning and bearing it, as I haven’t taught them any other way to cope with what happened.
What are you supposed to do though? Accept the fact that, because these interlopers were young children, it’s okay?
I understand how tricky it can be expecting young children to wait patiently. I get that, as I’ve been through it with three of my own.
But if they’re old enough to go on the attraction, surely they’re old enough to wait in line – for at least a token amount of time?
We’re taught to respect our elders, and our peers, and almost everybody and everything. But when will we teach ourselves to have a little self-respect and stand up for our place in the line?