To queue, or not to queue, that is the question. Queuing is an action we are all too familiar with, as we are forced to partake in this activity in our lives whether we like it or not. Welcome back to another episode of Yay or Nay, where we ponder the merits and demerits of queueing. Whichever is better, you ask? That’s up to you to decide. We can only offer you a few decidedly unbiased perspectives on the issue.

Yay

How can there be any perks to queueing? Just thinking about it is already overwhelming. Standing in a line, fidgeting from foot to foot, sweating profusely while trying to uphold some semblance of dignity. This is the unfortunate truth of queues and queuing up. So when I tell you that there are benefits to standing in line, it seems impossible – a figment of my imagination perhaps, but it may not always be so. Allow me to enlighten you on that aspect.

First of all, it is undeniable that waiting in a queue takes up our time. Queues, you see, are the perfect place to nurture self-discipline. Think about it: when you’re surrounded by people, a great many who are strangers, the only decent thing to do is to behave yourself. It just wouldn’t do if you caused a scene or broke any rules of etiquette, no matter how unintentional your actions may be. Under the public’s watchful gaze, this provides you with the opportunity to persist through however long it takes for you to get to the front of the line. At the end of it all, you may surprise yourself and all those around you with your newfound willpower and strength. How is this possible? When you find yourself in an unchangeable and unpredictable situation such as standing in a line, one clear goal remains in your mind, and that is to get to the front of the line. Equipped with this coherent objective and determination to achieve your goal, you will soon find out that the sky is the limit.

Besides, queueing is also a brilliant training ground to cultivate your imagination. Suppose your phone’s battery life is on its last legs and you’ve got no one around you to chat with and take your mind away from the crippling boredom one inevitably faces while standing in line. That itself is one of the minor nightmares life presents us with. However, suppose we see this in a more optimistic light. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It’s the same in this circumstance. Now is the time to let your creative juices flow and start utilising one of the most important assets you are blessed with – your brain. Now is the time to unleash your imagination or to simply daydream, which are pretty lovely ways to pass time when you have absolutely nothing else to do. That begs the question: what use is imagination except conjuring up baseless fancies and ridiculous speculations? To answer that, imaginative play, which stems from one’s imagination, has been found to stimulate creativity, foster empathy, and improve problem-solving skills. The advantages imagination brings are indeed many. Coupled with the many queues you would experience in life, this provides further occasions for you to wield your imagination. Practice makes perfect, and the same can be said for all our imaginations as well.

Beyond that, we have to acknowledge that our lives in these modern times are often full of hustle and bustle. The very act of queueing forces us to stop or at least slow down, and observe life around us. This could be what Instagram influencers mean when they talk about “slow living”, and giving it some thought, they may be on to something. In the end, life is short and it would be a shame to play passive roles as the end for us all gradually inches closer. This is the very reason that queueing, especially when done in a moderate amount, should not be overlooked. By stranding our physical forms in a queue, we can seize the chance to take a good look at the things we may not have noticed otherwise. How the sunlight falls on the path, how the people walking by could live lives we cannot even begin to imagine, how there is so much more to everything, and how it is difficult to fathom the idea of how everything is interconnected. All of these things are only accessible to us once we take the time to slow down and truly notice the many discoveries we could be making, no matter how insignificant they may seem. What better way to do all this? By queueing, of course!

  • Jia Xuan, who believes there should be a good thing or two when it comes to queueing, but may be only comforting herself about it all.

Nay

Let’s be real here for a second. If you had a choice to queue or not to queue, which one would you choose? Imagine just before you finish grocery shopping, you see that the shop counter on your left has 7 people, while the shop counter on your right has 2 people; which counter will you pick? Certainly, more people will go with the counter on the right, with only 2 people. 

The reason is quite simple, IT SAVES MORE TIME! By deciding to not queue (although most of the time we are forced into a queue), you will save more time than when you are queuing. With only 24 hours a day, we need to use that time wisely, and spending our precious time queuing is not worth it. In our modern world, where we are busy with university, college, or work, time management is essential in everyone’s life. Suppose you only have 1 hour to have lunch before you need to go back to university or work. With only 1 hour to spare, queuing in a line to order food seems risky because sometimes you might not know how long the queue will take until the restaurant can take your order, and you also need to wait until your food is served. Generally, a long queue means more people to serve, and more people to serve means that your order will take longer to be served. If the queue plus the time to serve the food is too long, you might be late for work or class, which is something none of us wants.

Besides the problem with time constraints, not queuing will give you more freedom of movement, while queuing will glue you to a small area. Whether it be a line queue where you have to wait in line, or a ticket queue, where you will take a ticket and wait for your number to be called. In a line queue, it’s quite apparent that you are glued to that position in that queue. The moment you leave the queue, the person behind you will take your spot, and you need to queue again from the end of the line. For a ticket queue, you are still glued to an area, but a bigger area. You have the freedom to sit or walk around, but make sure you are not too far from the speaker, monitor, or staff or else you might not see or hear when your number is called. Depending on each individual, being stuck in a particular area is fine, but there are people (like me) who prefer walking around if I’m waiting for something. 

Lastly, queuing is a source of anxiety and dissatisfaction, so avoiding queues where possible will remove one of our sources of anxiety and dissatisfaction. I’m sure most of us have experienced anxiety and dissatisfaction to a certain degree during the queue. Additionally, there are specific characteristics of queues that will make them more unsatisfying and anxiety-inducing. For example, a long queue with uncertain or unexplained wait time under the hot, burning sun for a limited product will result in more dissatisfaction and anxiety. First, I’m sure many of us don’t want to be under the sun for an extended period. Second, we are anxious that the limited product might be sold out by the time we reach the front of the queue. Finally, a queue with an uncertain wait time will make us anxious because, generally, uncertainty results in anxiety. 

Using your phone or allowing your mind to wander in the realms of imagination might alleviate anxiety and dissatisfaction to a certain degree. However, be reminded that you cannot be fully absorbed with your phone or imagination because you also need to be attentive to the queue and move forward when there is a gap. Ultimately, avoiding queueing is the best way to reduce one of the sources of anxiety and dissatisfaction. 

  • Daniel, a man with zero patience.

So we’ve reached the end of this month’s Yay or Nay. Have we managed to convince you about the benefits of queueing/not queuing? Have you changed your mind, or have you firmly held on to your previous preferences? Think about it and let us know in the comments below!

By: Jia Xuan, Daniel

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