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I Hate Queues!
Dear Dr Freud,
I suffer from a condition that is becoming increasingly common. It is what I refer to as queuephobia, a desire to fantasize when confronted by any situation involving a queue of people.
I am providing you with a description of yesterday's events in the hope that you can suggest how I can deal with this emerging social phenomenon.
I get out of bed, turn the bathroom door handle and find it locked.
"Sorry," my wife apologizes on behalf of our children, "Joan needs to do her hair first today and then it's Paul's turn because Peter said he'd pick him up early."
Doctor, while I waited in line behind my son Paul for my turn of the bathroom, is it wrong to reflect that if I had taken precautions on two particular occasions, right now I'd be singing in the shower?
"You'll have to take the bus today," I'm told by my wife, "I need the car."
As I approach the bus stop I see what someone suffering from queuephobia ought not to see. Ten prospective commuters temptingly standing in the familiar formation I see when I bowl every Wednesday night.
You must forgive me, doctor, but as I pass a garden with rock landscaping I imagine myself possessing super strength and using one of the rocks as a bowling ball to see what dispersion pattern ten fallen commuters can create.
After a busy morning at my desk, I look forward to a cup of coffee and something sweet in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, a score of employees are similarly inclined and have already staked their position in the queue. Honestly, sir, I didn't mind the twenty minute wait in the line, and I did not begrudge those in front of me who took an inordinately long period of time to make up their minds concerning their dietary requirements.
Granted, as I stared at the folds of flesh dangling from the arms and neck of the overweight lady in front of me, I could not think of anything else but that she should do herself a favour by donating to charity the dozen or so cookies she was wolfing down her cavernous mouth even before she had paid for them.
But I will confess, Sigmund, that I did want to ram cream buns down the throat of the powerfully built guy whose only purchase was a glass of very healthy carrot juice. No-one has a right to such health! I so wanted him to experience what it is like for Foie gras geese to be force fed.
Lunch time is normally a calm affair, when I eat sandwiches at my desk and stare out the window at the line of people almost directly beneath me who are waiting for traffic lights to change so that they can cross the street.
Many times I have thought about -
(a) tossing parts of my sandwich on them
(b) spraying a little water over them to see if they imagine it to be rain
(c) jumping out and yelling "Catch me if you can!" as I plunge head first towards them
(d) throwing paper on which is written "Help! I'm being held prisoner in the office above you."
(e) a combination of the above
However, a frantic telephone call from my daughter puts an end to my schemes.
"Dad, there's no way I can get to TICKETS-R-US. Can you please, please, please?" she pleads.
Thus I find myself standing in a long queue that stretches around the block. I estimate that by the time I reach the front of the line, Man would have already colonized Mars. However, the first two hours pass pleasantly enough as I stare at the younger generation around me and pray that a miracle may yet be possible to transform them to useful members of society. After all, I rationalize, someone has to be a sanitation engineer or a golf caddy.
I am still far from the head of the queue when I hear a "Hey, Mister" and turn in the direction of the voice.
"Do you want tickets for Salamander?" he asks me furtively.
"Yes," I reply.
"I've got them. Half price," he says to me, pointing to what I hope is his pocket. Eve tempted Adam with an apple. I was tempted with the thought of getting a bargain and ending my relationship in the queue with a bunch of losers.
Minutes later I am several hundred dollars poorer and clutching a sealed envelope containing two front row seats.
"Yes, look on," I think to myself as the queue dwellers shake their heads at the transaction. "It is my generation who knows how to run the world."
To celebrate, on the way home I decide to stop at the supermarket for Black Forest cake. As I head for the "8 items or less" counter the light comes on.
"Sorry, sir," the cashier informs me sardonically, "this register is closed. Please go to another one."
Now, Mr Freud, you and I are not mathematicians, but we can both appreciate the law of averages in mathematical probability. Out of fifteen other registers, at least one should allow me to make my purchase relatively painlessly. But no! I choose Register 5, which has one, I stress, only one, lady customer. As I come near I can hear her conversation with the cashier. She is not happy. She claims she is being overcharged for a tin of sardines. Can I be objective? Should I patiently wait? Should I intervene and ask the pretty cashier what I am thinking? The manager is eventually summoned, but he does not appear. The queues at all the other checkouts are getting shorter. Dare I risk it and become a turncoat?
The minutes pass. The pimple faced manager finally arrives. Not exercising the wisdom of Solomon, he says he must go to the main administration office at the back to check the current price on the master computer's inventory list.
"I think you should also check the price of pimple cream while you're there," I mutter under my breath as I stare at him coldly.
I decide to edge to the adjacent register, where four customers are waiting. Mr Freud, I will spare you the details concerning what happened at this register; how the cashier ran out of change and how I set the world record for taking the longest time to exit through a check out.
It may also interest you to know, doctor, that the envelope did not contain tickets for Salamander. All that was inside was the cryptic message, Queue U!
Please help me, Sigmund.
Thank you for explaining your symptoms of queuphobia. It is clear to me that the underlying cause is suppression of a latent desire for intimacy with people en masse. Oedipus stated it correctly when he said .....
Yours in analysis