Does sitting in queue beat standing in one?

Through the lens, lightly


Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 3 Nov 2022, 7:41 PM

People move to a new residence for all sorts of reasons: an increase of rent or a desire to relocate to a different part of town (which may be closer to the workplace) etc, etc. But sometime back, I had a conversation with someone who told me a bizarre thing. He recently moved apartments because the elevator system in his old building was getting on his nerves. “There were only two lifts, and many, many apartments [it’s a high-rise] and therefore many, many residents, so at any given time, there was a long queue of people waiting to catch the elevator,” he explained when he saw the confusion on my face. “It used to be especially maddening during the rush hours, and, at times, I have waited 15-20 minutes just to get a spot in the lift.”

There’s not only the frequency of the lift grinding to a stop on your floor; there’s also the fact that only X number of people can get into the box (not to speak of large-ish perambulators that take up half the area, limiting the number of lift-goers to two or three per shot).

I got his point.

In my building, there is probably a lesser number of apartments, and three lifts, but each time I get home and am standing on the ground level of the lift lobby, I pray that the box that comes up from basement parking level does not have too many people. It happens at times, and then keeps repeating itself, and I have to wait a good 5 to 6 minutes before I can “find a place”. Then, you have those people who walk in after you and are not polite enough to lag behind you in the line, they manage to slime their way into the space before me. It’s quite an art, I’ve noticed: they first pretend they are standing behind you, and the moment the lift starts getting close to landing, they sidle up to stand next to you, and the moment the lift does the landing, they barge through the door.

But sitting in a queue is probably worse. I am talking about the time when I am sitting in a taxi, and we are at a four-point crossing, and I know if I am lucky, we’ll be able to careen past the traffic light because the light is green on our side of the quarter and we are in the flow. Most times, I am not lucky. And just as we are about to cross over, the lights turn colour. The cabbie turns around at this point to inform me apologetically that he’d rather not take a chance by crossing over during amber lights — because if, by any chance, they turn red, the fine is hefty. At least a five-minute wait ensues, while the meter behaves like a ticking bomb.

There’s also the other situation where you think you are nicely poised, there are only four or five cars in front of you, and since four-point traffic lights are usually NOT the blink-and-you-miss-it types, you will sail through. When you get the greenlight, you notice the car isn’t moving even though a good 10-15 seconds have passed. This time, you see that the car which is supposed to pass through first — and this happens invariably when you have a U-turn to manoeuvre — is heaving and huffing and puffing and taking a REALLY long time to get going.

And then, history repeats itself: when our turn comes, the lights shoot amber, and the cabbie goes into neutral gear.

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