Six rules to waiting in line

17:00, Jun 27 2014

As a student I was once admonished, loudly, in front of other people queuing at an ATM, for standing too close to an older woman while she was withdrawing money.

There was a sign warning people to keep their distance and I thought I was. 

I was mortified, but it's a lesson I'll never forget.

It's usually easy to wait in line when there are clear signs or roped-off areas indicating how, like in post offices or banks. But, left to our own devices, things fall apart. 

This can turn the slight annoyance of having to wait in line into outrage.

 Here are some points to bear in mind. 


1. When the door opens, a single-file queue stays a single-file queue - it doesn't become a stampede.

2. Cutting in is never OK. This seems to happen a lot when waiting for the bus and with that newest of queues, the self-service checkout in supermarkets. If someone was there before you, that person gets to proceed first. Supermarket staff, please help regulate this. You will lose customers. 

3. Queue with your friends. One person shouldn't be a stand-in for an entire party. People will hate you when they've stood in line for half an hour and you suddenly have six friends join you. For the same reason, try to go to the rest room before joining the queue. You can't expect to leave and then resume your place in line. 

4. Respect other people's personal space. There is no need for body parts to touch.

5. Queuing outdoors is not an excuse to smoke. Other people don't want to be subjected to second-hand smoke.

6. Keep your children with you. One of the most common gripes with queues is children running around, weaving their way in and out of queues and running into people.  Can I take a moment to commend women using public restrooms for being excellent waiters in a line?  If you're a woman and you've been to any sort of concert or play, you know how long those lines can get. But, time after time, women will patiently wait for those in front of them to use whatever cubicle becomes available. In all my years, I've never seen someone cut in.

For our efforts, can we have more cubicles for women, please? The queue for us is just always so much longer. 

Got a suggestion for the Modern Manners team? Email features editor Deborah Sloan on or write her c/- The Waikato Times, Private Bag 3086, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240.

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