As if we didn’t know, the British are great at queuing. The queue to see the Queen lying in state became a tourist attraction in itself: it had its own social media accounts and Wikipedia page, and a crowd of people watching it.
Why do we love a queue? Many strange reasons, but the main one being that it feels like democracy in action. You get there early – you get to see the thing first. You’re at the back – you don’t.
Which explains the hoo-ha when This Morning presenter Philip Schofield jumped it – 75,000 people signed a petition for him to be sacked and he lost his £1m a year deal with We Buy Any Car.
But with an asset like this, there’s always the potential for corruption.
The spot at the front of any queue is naturally more valuable than the one at the back; Dave at the tail-end would probably pay a decent price to swap places with Jan whose outside the door. It'll get him in more quickly, and time is a precious commodity.
However, when the FT ran this very experiment with people waiting in The Queue, the answers were inconclusive, with most people balking at the very idea.
Let’s take a less monarchist queue.
Along with the offers for extra leg room and additional air (exaggerating) is the chance to purchase priority boarding for £4.99.
Very nice, except for some reason I didn’t bother.
However, it turns out that most people did.
Which means that the queue for priority boarding is the queue. It’s just me and six others who will have to wait until the end.
On the one hand, we look like the losers.
On the other, we don’t.
I get to sit back in my chair, laptopping away, until both queues have gone, and just breeze through until everyone else has boarded.
My time hasn’t been wasted by being last. And I’m £4.99 up.
Meanwhile those who got in first are now waiting for me. They get to sit down first, of course, but they’re just sitting in a metal tube while I’ve been sitting in the boarding lounge. They won’t get to Spain any quicker.
And what about those poor idiots who paid extra to go on 183rd and had to stand for ages?
The cult of the individual, the internet, etc etc means we’re special now, but when we’re all special what’s really special?
Does it mean having to pay even more to be a priority in the priority queue? What if it doesn't meet our expectations?
Perhaps we just really need to think hard about what’s really valuable to us, and why that is. Then think about how much we think it's worth.
And resist the urge to blindly join a queue, no matter how tempting it looks.
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