Home Opinion and Features Taking gaps and queues

Taking gaps and queues


Tavern of the seas

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I WROTE recently about the time we spend getting to and from work.

Several readers contacted me after reading the column and said I had forgotten to mention the big slice of our lives we spend in queues.

We queue at the bank (although it’s often a hidden queue of bewildered people clutching tickets and not knowing whether they’re at the front or the back of it), we queue at the supermarket check-out, we queue at the post office counter, we queue to renew our car licences and we queue patiently to renew our driver’s licences. We queue for passports and visas.

I wonder how many years of our lives are wasted standing (or sitting) in queues.

I was fascinated to see a small advertisement in our local suburban newspaper, offering a queuing service. Now that’s a real case of somebody seeing a gap in the market and going for it.

I don’t suppose there’s an official name for a professional queue-stander, but there should be. Linemaster? Stand-in? Queuester?

The advertisement says the queuers will collect forms to be submitted, stand in the necessary queues, make payments where needed and then come back with the required document and collect payment. They specify assisting at queues for vehicle licence renewals and payments of traffic fines. What a brilliant idea!

With so much unemployment in our country it would seem to offer a whole new range of jobs for the jobless. And it’s a far more necessary service than arm-waving in car parks.

I guess the only qualifications required would be the ability to read and the possession of some form of transport.

I bet it would not be long before they formed the SAQU and went on strike demanding higher pay and shorter queues and longer holidays.

We’re very good at shooting ourselves in the feet.


Ticking over

What do you think about when you lie awake in the small hours, unable to fall asleep?

Ron Spangenberg of Somerset West wrote to say he lay listening to his heart beat thumping on the pillow and started a mental calculation. If his heart rate was 72 beats a minute, multiplied by the hours in a day and the days in a year, he reached a total somewhere around 38million. Multiply that by the number of years you’re likely to live and you get a truly astronomical figure. I wonder whether that’s more revolutions than a modern car engine achieves before it reaches the scrapyard.

Ron reckons there’s some pretty durable engineering pumping away in his chest.

Last Laugh

A mechanic underwent heart surgery and was chatting to his surgeon after the operation.

“You and I do much the same sort of thing,” he said. “The heart is just like a carburetor; it pumps fuel into the engine. If I find a faulty carburetor I take it out, fix it and put it back. You do the same with a heart.

“So why can you charge hundreds of thousands of rands for the job, while I get only a couple of hundred?”

“I think the difference is that I have to do the whole thing while keeping the engine running,” said the surgeon. “You try that with a carburetor.”