I’m at the chemist picking up some medicine. I go up to the front counter and there’s no clear place to queue, but a line has formed so I join the end of it. There’s one register open (let’s call it register 1) serving a customer, and two other customers in line. I stand behind them, becoming third in line (not counting the guy being served), and a woman comes up behind me. Obviously, she is fourth in line.
The customer being served is taking quite a while, but thankfully two registers (2 & 3) open up at the same time. The two customers in front of me walk up to get served and, hooray, I’m now first in line.
That’s not how the woman behind me sees it. She walks in front of me, examines each of the newly opened registers to see which one will be free soon, then decides to form her own line in the tiny gap behind register 2. Register 2 opens up before either of the other two and this lady gets served before me.
What the hell?
Now, I’m only about 10 seconds inconvenienced, but by god did that annoy me.
But I can see how her mind was working. A lot of places have separate lines behind each register, and in this scenario there was nothing to say that was the wrong (or right) way to queue. I wouldn’t do it, but I prefer the one queue format so maybe I’m just biased.
So, based on the facts presented to you, did this woman push in front of me? Was she wrong? Was I? Should I really have spent five minutes complaining about how I lost ten seconds?
She was impolite, but I don’t believe she necessarily broke any rules.
The way I see it, a new register is a new queue; unless there is a clearly demarcated single queue for all registers and the newly opened cashier specifically calls for the very next person in line, a newly opened register is a free-for-all and should serve whoever gets there first. Shitty for non-rude people, for sure, but I’m putting the blame in this particular case on the store and their willy-nilly queueing policy (or lack thereof).
I’m a store cashier. When we open up because there are three or more on line, the procedure is to announce “Register 3 is now open. Next on line.” Often the next on line will shrug and motion for the person behind them to go. Or someone coming out of the aisle will come over and be first.
Only a few times has anyone gotten nasty about it. Usually people take it philosophically: It’s not worth 5 minutes complaining to compensate for losing 10 seconds.
Did she immediately brush past you, or did she give you enough time to see what was going on as well? Unless it’s clearly set up as a single-queue to multiple registers system, you had the same opportunity to go to another register, but if you just stood there, you implicitly gave up the initiative.
Was your queue directly leading to register 1? And
Was there anyone else in line behind you?
Number 1 is really the key question. If your line was closer to register 1 than register 2, then I can see how she may have decided we’re doing separate queues for each register. This impression is made stronger if the answer to number 2 is, “no.”
The convenience store that just opened a couple blocks from me may have accidentally hit on a good method for inducing a culture of single-queue forming. The space behind the registers where the separate queues would normally form is taken up by displays and customers have to either wait in between them or stand uncomfortably close to the other party. Single queue seems to form up.
No. The line was off to the side of all the registers. If you were to draw a line along the three registers and the people in the queue, you’d almost get a straight line. Register 1 was closest, but you have to walk past it to get to registers 2 & 3. It wasn’t just a line directly in front of register 1.
I’m not sure, I can’t remember.
I’ll also add that there was barely any room for the woman to get past me (she didn’t squeeze past me but took a bit of manoeuvring). She could’ve possibly walked around behind me and perhaps formed a new line directly in front of the register, but as it was she moved in a way that felt very much like she was pushing in.