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by Kenneth Lyen

How many of you enjoy lining up in queues? Nobody? I thought not. We spend much of our lives queuing up at checkout counters, food stalls, post offices, banks, and even some toilets.

Well, today I wasted my entire one and a half hour lunch break lining up in a queue. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if there wasn’t this old man behind me who kept on pressing his body against mine, and his hot breath blowing down my neck. And I was starving.

There were five positions for tellers at this bank, but only four were filled. Come to think of it, there was never an instance that I know of when all the positions were staffed. One position seemed to be perpetually empty, perhaps occupied by a ghost teller. Anyway, one of the tellers only attended to new accounts holders. One of them was blocked by a rather dense person who had an apparently simple matter to sort out, but made it quantum mechanics complicated, and fired endless rounds of questions which would take forever to answer. The remaining two tellers were completely oblivious of the ever increasing line, and enjoyed chatting with their customers, and like MacDonald’s servers, they always asked their customer whether or not they wanted to upsize their accounts.

I was getting increasingly frustrated. The problem is that I was utterly powerless to fight the system. Shouting, I realise, would not get me anywhere. At times I thought I might faint. But I realised that I would lose my queue position if I fainted. I wished I had planned my odyssey a bit better, and perhaps bought along the Iliad to read. I even thought of writing a rude letter to the bank, complaining about their system. But I realise that to get anything changed would not benefit me, at least not in my lifetime. I thought of the poor souls in Urinetown the musical, queuing up for the only public toilet in town, while their bladders were full to bursting. At least I was spared that agony.

I looked around me, and glanced at the rows of downcast faces, everyone deliberately trying to avoid eye contact. One was making a handphone call and we all strained to listen in on the private conversation. Another trying to add up all the numbers in his bank balance.

Finally it was my turn. "Thank you. No, the wait was not that long. Thanks for asking. Do you have any nuggets?"