I love striking up a conversation with strangers, particularly in queues. I had reason to go into the bank and thought it would take no time at all. There were two counters open, both occupied, and two people before me in the queue. The customers appeared to be sorting out their financial affairs rather than making a quick dash into the bank for some petty query, and it was 45 minutes before it was my turn to hog the chair. As I waited on the queuing bench, I chatted to the man on the left and the woman on the right. A young woman entered the bank and walked straight over to a third consultant who had just seated herself at the desk. Well, if looks could kill! The lady next to me gave her such a piercing stare that it obviously burned a hole in the back of her head and she quickly scuttled into her rightful place at the end of the queue, suitably subdued. When it was my turn, I went over to consultant number three, who told me she didn’t open accounts and I must see one of the other two. Back to the bench! Lady on the right swanned over to consultant number three and the atmosphere on the bench lightened considerably.
At last it was my turn and I sat at the desk while a personable young man bashed away at the keyboard at a speed to rival the perfect private secretary, and it still took nearly 30 minutes of frenetic tapping to make all the entries required to open a simple account. It did occur to me that perhaps 80% of the tapping was on the backspace key to fix the errors, but as he hummed a little tune to himself the whole while, I felt it would be churlish to think such thoughts. In between the humming, there was even time for a little chitchat on the length of time it took. Eventually all was done, and a mountain of paperwork (despite all the key bashing) spewed out of the printer and multiple signatures were applied. But my goal for the day was achieved and I left a satisfied customer.
Turning straight into the coffee shop next door to revive myself after the ordeal, I found the three tables already occupied, but a young woman asked me to take a seat as she tapped away on the keys of her phone. Once that was over and I was enjoying an excellent coffee, we struck up a conversation and in no time I had convinced her that she should definitely buy the red flowery mug that she just loved on the shelf next to us. If we don’t spoil ourselves, who will? I asked, and two more women joined in to continue that conversation. By the time we left the shop, we were almost planning a reunion.
Rushing into PnP to buy cat food, I ended up in the queue (from a choice of about 12) next to the man who I sat next to earlier, and so we had a quick recap of our experience in the bank, before finally heading in opposite directions.
Queuing is so much less onerous if you take the trouble to share your boredom with someone else!
(PS my pic is of a crowd rather than a queue, but relevant.)