I Always Pick The Slowest Line


You may appreciate the opportunity to wait in line. Perhaps it gives you the chance to teach your children Latin verbs or to practice inner peace. But the rest of us indulge in quasi-mathematical speculations about which line is moving faster. Such speculations are not only futile, they lead us to bitter conclusions about fickle fate in a vast unknowable universe.

For the facts about waiting in line, check out engineer Bill Hammack’s explanation. He’s inspired me to start patronizing stores that use the “combined queue” method. Or at least to use my time better. Now repeat after me: maneo manere mansi mansum

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6 thoughts on “I Always Pick The Slowest Line

  1. This video was featured on Slashdot, as well, and the comments were very interesting.

    Apparently this arrangement is common in Britain, but has limited use here. It’s used for banks and drivers license offices, but isn’t used much in retail.

    It was also pointed out that there are factors to consider as to what goods and services the line is waiting for. When these factors come into play, I usually opt to do things online when available (which is fast and efficient) or go to that store or office at a certain time (06:00 is pretty quiet and empty for most supermarkets, including ones open 24/7).

  2. Psychology has something to do with it too. I’ve noticed that people are more likely to grumble audibly in lines using the combined queue method because lines are much longer, even though they move faster.

  3. Speaking as a Brit, the system is reasonably common here especially at large chemists (drugstores) and banks. I’ve personally never seen it at a supermarket except at the self-service checkouts where it does seem quite common.

    I don’t expect it to take off much more. Everyone knows the Brits love nothing more than 1) Queuing and 2) Moaning!

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