The overrated art of standing in line

Annie Dear
The Independent Aussie
Annie Dear

I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, dear reader – and, if you were brave enough – a fruitful Black Friday.

I have two strikes against me already when I think of the "greatest sale of the year day." First off, I have pretty much zero patience, and secondly, I loathe shopping. The very thought of shopping coupled with lining up and crowds – well, I frankly just have to go and have a stout cup of tea and a good lie down.

Growing up in Australia we didn’t actually call it lining up – we followed the British and called it queuing. My school life was full of queuing – lining up in order of height, or alphabetically, or just because the headmistress thought it was a thing of beauty and a joy forever to see her girls obeying orders.

My first encounter with a serpentine queue: you know, the lines that snake around well-placed barriers so what looks like a fairly short line – if stretched out, like a small intestine – it would in fact go clear out of the building, around the corner and up the street. My, that was a long sentence. Anyhow, my first serpentine queue I met at the Tower of London.

Working for De Beers at the time, I felt if I didn’t go see the crown jewels I might be discretely hanged, drawn and quartered. In the line was a delightful young lady behind me, cuddling a terminally cute Yorkshire terrier. We had a lovely chat, and then my attention was drawn forward to a very small child holding the hand of her extremely tall father

"Daddy, daddy," she whispered as she tugged on his hand. "Daddy, why are we queuing?"

The priceless response? “It’s all part of being British, darling/"

Having seen the gobsmacking jewels – you really should see them if you get a chance – I emerged back out to the sunlight to see a Yeoman of the Guard holding the leashed Yorkie. The pup, spotting me as a potential ally, ran around my legs with the Yeoman leaning heavily against the leashed frenzy.

“I’d watch ‘im if I were you, madam. E’s actually a police dog in disguise." I just knew I was in London then.

The Brits, and come to think of it, the Aussies and the Japanese, are all very good queuers. Well-behaved and patient, we know the system, and there’s no point bucking it. Woe betide anyone who tries to jump the queue, as they are dealt with promptly and succinctly.

I must confess as I gracefully age, my tolerance for standing in line is waning at the same rate my hair is graying, and if I can avoid queuing, I will gladly do it.

I therefore couldn’t quite believe the reports of Whataburger opening up in Lee’s Summit. A guy, presumably quite voluntarily and not on a dare, lined up at 5 a.m. to be the first to nosh on what was on offer. Five a.m. Some six hours before the store was to open.

Now there’s lining up, and there’s madness. Really? Six hours to claim the non-existent trophy awarded to the first fanger of the newest hamburger on offer in the city? 

Not on your nelly, Nelly.Qu,

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at