The eternal sunshine of the germless queue

There are many things I love about the Arab culture. They make amazing coffee. The concept of shawerma is a masterpiece. Their generosity puts the rest of us to shame. I love their dark, illusion-less humour. Their directness cracks me up (most of the time). They are passionate, warm, real and madly hospitable. The way the elderly are treated in this society is a lesson to us all. And so on.

But God forbid you ever find yourself in a queue.

First of all, you are never actually in a queue. You are in a pulsating, sweaty scrum of crazed humanity. You can clearly feel the anatomy of the person behind you indelibly imprinted on your own. You are actually doing the exact same to the person in front by sheer virtue of physics. Intrepid new arrivals constantly infiltrate the scrum from innovative sideways attack positions. People lie bare faced about having been there all along when they obviously just materialized out of the thin air in the form of annoying little queue jumping entities.

In fact, most people here enjoy physical contact with the same desperate craving I enjoy my morning coffee. I have often entered nice restaurants with friends who gave a quick inspection, then decreed we should leave immediately because the place is not full. What lunatic would want to sit where we can’t squeeze together like happy sardines? Off we go in search of the next chockablock opportunity.

Now take this and add Covid and a curfew to the mix. Plus falafel withdrawal. And then try to go to the local shop for a quick, careful shopping trip post a 48 hour total curfew. I’ve had to surgically remove a fat loud woman who was hugging me from behind while the grocer was weighing my bananas. I told a guy off for practically trying to snog me while offering a bag. As I was leaving, a happy family blocked the entrance for an urgent discussion about whether they need tomatoes or not.

Long story short. How do we quickly import some queue-ness? Has anyone got some spare?

4 thoughts on “The eternal sunshine of the germless queue

  1. Great read! I’m not sure I have any advice though. Even here in London, too many folks see to be struggling with the two metre distancing guidelines. What are options for ordering deliveries like where you are?


    1. Not great. In theory, there are some delivery options but in practice I am yet to hear of a happy receiver:) However, the good news is that people seem to have relaxed a bit and today they allowed for distinctly more distance- I think close contact, apart from being cultural, is also a sign of fear of the unknown, desperation, sadness, loneliness etc. You know? Clinging together in the face of the big scare. How are things at your end?


  2. Queuing is something Kiwis (certainly of my generation) do very well, and our usual personal space radius is quite large, so the “problem” here is the length of the queue rather than its density. That can be really demoralising until you realise that we’re all OVER estimating 2metres, and there are actually only six people in front of you 😂


    1. Quite at the opposite end of the spectrum:) Our queues here seem small and very doable until you discover all the ones underneath and that false sense of security flies right in your face:)


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