The Queue


Canadians form queues. It's an accepted part of the Canadian mystique. We line up at fast food restaurants; we patiently wait for government services; we're orderly even at Boxing Day sales at electronic big box stores. When we see queue-jumping unfairness we complain, like when young people wait in line for hours for concert tickets only to find that the agent has parceled them out to other agents for sale at premium prices.

You don't read about elderly women trampled at grand openings of discount stores in Canada. You don't read about Canadians trading gunfire at Timmy's because someone tried to butt in. We attribute that kind of chaos to our southern neighbours. They don't seem to understand the word 'queue'. It sounds French, and they've made clear their opinion of France in the past few years. In French, queue means a long braid of hair down the back. Our neighbours use a more refined word for the same hairdo: pigtail.

You don't suppose that lining up politely is a requirement for citizenship? I wonder if there is a line on Canada's immigration form which says: “willing to stand in a queue.” And if it's a requirement to get in, I wonder if it could be grounds for removal. To be tailed, if not pigtailed, by ITAC, the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, Canada's version of the US Department of Homeland Security. Bet you didn't know we had one, did you? They call it The Center, diplomatically. Have they asked Canadians to squeal on un-Canadain activity, like queue-jumping, by other Canadians?

Psst! I know someone who knows someone who doesn't willingly queue. Don't tell anyone though; she's too old to do any permanent harm. But she hates lineups, doesn't even like looking at them on TV cop shows. When she goes into a department store, it's embarrassing. She barges through the aisles bumping into other shoppers, intent on her destination, wherever that is. Oblivious to other consumers or to staff, she tries to navigate as the crow flies. Surely she knows that department stores are laid out like mazes, not like grids, and that crows are not allowed. Nor is flying.

Is she the kind of citizen we want? When she walks down the street she always keeps abreast of whoever is accompanying her. Like a self-absorbed teenager, she plays chicken with approaching pedestrians, daring them to remain on a collision course, or to jump off the sidewalk.

Fortunately, her only weapons are an enormous shoulder bag, and a pair of elbows Gordie Howe would envy. Come to think of it, he moved south, and she's about the same age.

When we finally were introduced, I asked her, “Queues, what do you have against them?”

“Cues?” she replied. “I still have the custom-made ones I used to play 8-ball with. I keep them on the mantle, along with my custom 10-pin bowling ball to remind me of when I was a champ at both.”

~ Wilf Rondeau

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Have you ever wondered ...
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