Monday, October 25, 2004
The Waiting Game
If patience is a virtue then I'm Public Enemy Number One. I don't do queues, you see, and if my name isn't on the guest-list then don't expect me to turn up and grace some sorry little shindig with my strangeness. I've even been known to refuse to stand in line for the ATM when I was down to my last fiver in cash. And I once stormed out of a car bound for the South of France to take the train back home, after being informed at Dover we had to wait a further four hours to board the working-to-rule ferry. My, but I can be a proper tantrum-tosser of a Stranger when I want to be. And I like my coffee instant.
(You might argue I could profitably use this enforced waiting time to read an improving book, admire the pretty flowers, or even achieve some state of Zen-like tranquillity, but I don't buy into that. As far as I'm concerned, books are to be read in bed, flowers are for funerals, and Zen is the name of a former flatmate's cat who used to pee a lot.)
The very presence of a queue is, of course, a dead giveaway of managerial incompetence and indifference. Ask anyone who's camped out at Stansted overnight for the first flight to Fuengirola with just one check-in desk open, manned only an hour before boarding by Vapid Vera and her assistant, Cassie Couldn't-Care-Less. And don't even get me started on the perma-queue at the Islington branch of Borders which seems to have been there since Caxton was a lad. Call me Miss Picky-Perfectionist if you will, but for me nothing brings on the Violet-Elizabeths more than other people delaying this Control Freak of a Fairy by inefficiency.
Or maybe it's just Other People, plain and simple, that I can't stand, and I'm nothing more than a stroppy and misanthropic Mary, after all. For it appears no-else minds standing, so many tin soldiers in line, happily striking up Spirit-of-the-Blitz conversations with people they'd normally walk widdershins round the Westway to avoid. But then, as Resident Alien George Mikes so accurately recorded years ago, even when alone an Englishman will always form an orderly queue of one.
And it is in that one word, "orderly" where I suspect the problem lies, my ever so patient dears. I couldn't be orderly or ordered if I tried. I was out of step as a child, and I'm not intending to get into that particular line now and dance to someone else's drummer. The only regimentation I'll tolerate is a mucky video with randy and up-for-it squaddies, and if you find a round hole, well, just say the word and I'll bring along that square peg I always carry around with me. Petulant and contrary? You don't know the half of it.
But then again, they do say that all good things come to he who waits. Which could probably be why I'm still bloody waiting.