Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Queuing Experience

There's nothing like some academic euphemism to get me going on a Sunday morning. The Times had an essay about the "torture" of "waiting on line." Nothing new with that headline, of course. But the theme of the piece was how "experts" were sharing their knowledge about how they defuse the anger for long waits. They want to make the "queuing experience" bearable. Well there's no bearable about it. Never was, never will be. Waiting on line is the Chinese water torture of the 21st Century.

The folks at Disneyland, for example, snake the line for Space Mountain and lie about how long the wait is (by saying it's longer than it really is) to keep the troops happy. Screw that. (I remember waiting for Space Mountain when my son was a little kid, and after an hour when we got to the top of the ride, he chickened out. I told him to go down and wait with his mother because there was no way I was waiting an hour and not going on it.)

Let me start by lauding my dentist's office, which over 30 years now, has kept me waiting for an aggregate amount of time of maybe 10 minutes. Yes, that's not a fantasy folks. I think once in maybe a 150 or so appointments, I was kept waiting once -- for maybe 10 minutes. And they were extremely apologetic about it. This is a busy office with four dentists, several hygienists, and a great reputation. If I'm running even five minutes late, I call and apologize, too. They respect my time; I respect theirs. If they can do it, the rest of the world can, too. They knew how to keep the trains running on time, and they even planned for emergency visits.

Once, after waiting an hour for a doctor, I threw a hissy fit in the office and loudly announced I was going to bill them an hour for my time. People in the waiting room looked blankly at me.

I have never learned patience when it comes to somebody wasting my time on line. Today, we wait, wait, wait and this is lost time we're never going to get back, and yeah, I've read a lot of good books waiting on line. Still...

I think the three obscure scientists who invented the speaker phone (its origins are unclear, however) should probably be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Whenever I'm on hold, I'm on speaker, and I can actually do some other mindless task while I'm waiting for an actual human voice to pick up. Truthfully, this has saved me from going berserk, or at least breaking another handset, on more than one occasion.

About the only think I don't mind waiting for any more is getting on an airplane that I'm about to jump out of. I know, it's weird and I'm a bit wacko. But at least I don't have to take off my sneakers and wait on a security line where somebody is going to profile me, frisk me, put me in some metal detection chamber, and then make me feel like I should thank him for allowing me to board.

1 comment:

  1. What I find interesting is how different cultures deal with "queuing up". . . the first time I even heard the word "queue" was when I went to England. I was waiting for the bus with about 7 people. I was in no hurry, but when the bus came, I walked toward the door and someone asked me to (please) get in the queue. I sheepishly went to the end of the line. Then, years later, in China, I was waiting to board a plane in Beijing. My seat was toward the front of the plane, so I expected a bit of a wait while they boarded the plane back to front. However, as soon as the flight was announced every passenger started pushing their way to the front -- not of the line, of course, but just forward.

    I find that the older I get, the more patient I am, and thank god for Kindle. I never thought I would be able to read anything other than a book, but now I have even adapted to reading on my iPhone, which has a Kindle app.

    And I don't think it's weird at all, Doug, that you don't mind waiting get on a plane you'll jump from -- it must be nice to enjoy the anticipation of doing something you love so much.