Queuing – Africa Style!


Queuing in Africa would kill the most patient of souls (loooooong queues, slow service, heat) so there are ways of getting around it. The above system is one. There is also a company called Q 4 Me where you hire someone to queue in your place. They will phone you when they are near the front of the line so you can turn up and not have to wait. I have heard that they may now be closed but many unemployed people offer this service, for example in this ad.

The longest wait in South Africa is usually at Home Affairs or the Traffic Department to renew your driver’s license, where you can easily queue for a day and a half. I have never understood the queueing system in different places but there are kind people who tell you where to sit on the benches if you are lucky to get a seat, and when it is your turn. The last time I was at Home Affairs for my passport I thought I was really lucky as an official came and asked everyone paying cash to follow him for quick service. Off I trotted, only to be told a week later that he had absconded with all the money….

Swedes are very good at queuing. They are very orderly and queue jumping is frowned upon. One good thing is that they have number machines which means you take your number and don’t have to stand in a line. You can browse the rest of the shop while waiting, as long as you keep an eye on the queue numbers. But there are very seldom all stations manned. Why build a shop with loads of service stations and spend 99% of the time not using them? The only time they are all used is the day before Christmas.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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