Save some lives while you wait in line!

Each September, students find themselves getting familiar with the back of each other’s heads. It’s the back to school rush to line up.

By Karen Nickel

Illustration: Samantha Bullis

Illustration: Samantha Bullis

Each September, students find themselves getting familiar with the back of each other’s heads. It’s the back to school rush to line up. Line up at registration; line up at the book store; and those long Tim Horton’s lines.

Take a number at student services and realize, with horror, that there are 100 people ahead of you! What’s a person to do?

The origin of the words ‘line up’ can be traced back to the French, ‘queue’, which is from the Latin, ‘cauda’ meaning ‘tale’. There is an actual mathematical study of line ups called Queueing Theory. This is used in business and customer service models to facilitate the “efficient means of customer routing”, (thanks Wikipedia).

None of that helps you when you are in one though. How do you pass the time in a way that doesn’t make you cranky and frustrated?

It’s much easier now than it was 20 years ago. The amount of digital technology available is mind-boggling. Hand held games; free cell phone apps for iPhones and iPads (my favourites are Adult Swim’s Amateur Surgeon and Robot Unicorn Attack); and don’t forget listening to music on iPods.

You look out of place if you aren’t, gaming, texting, or tweeting, or (for the more adventurous) consensual sexting while waiting in line. But, with so many choices, what do you choose?

I like books and always have one with me just in case I come across a line I have to stand in. Recently, I have discovered E-readers which have changed my life completely. I can carry volumes of novels, manga (Japanese comics), non-fiction and textbooks in a device that’s the size of the slimmest day planner. I’ll never be bored again (unless I leave it at home).

Without technology, we are left with our imaginations and our ability to strategize, plan and communicate with each other.

I recently saw photos from China, where 10,000 people lined up to buy gold. Imagine that line next time you’re waiting to buy your coffee. Think of the patience and the time that’s necessary to be able to wait in that line. The one you’re in doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it?

Now load up Amateur Surgeon and save some lives while you wait to buy textbooks


Save some lives while you wait in line!

  • Alena Khabibullina

    This is an interesting article. I remember my mother and grandma told me the stories that in the Soviet Union era they used to stand about two hours for sausage, bread or butter. We still have this expression: Line for sausage.

    Here is a good article about Russian lines and how to behave if you are in a real Russian line

  • Peter Harris

    One major failure of technology is the substandard “Now Serving” red LED signs that all must face when lined up at Student Services at GBC. For all the billions spent on social media, one would think these relics could be improved somehow.