Caught in the prison of red tape

Long queue. Picture: Twitter

‘Look at us. The closer we get to the front, the slower the queue seems to move.’ He was right.

Most people will agree that, if there’s one thing that brings out the worst in them, it’s standing in a queue.

I, for one, detest having to line up for anything – whether it’s to submit some official form or to receive food at an event. The idea drives me bonkers.

Just the other day I had the misfortune of wasting close on an hour-and-a-half of my limited time on planet Earth waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to snail forward. Ahead of me were two young gentlemen, and judging from their conversation, they were even more annoyed.

“It’s like being in prison,” said Shorty. I’ll call him that for the obvious reason.

“What? What is like prison?” asked Inkman. No doubt you get the picture.

“When you join the queue, you’re the new guy in the block. Look, every time someone joins the queue, everyone looks to see who it is.”

And on cue everyone in line looked to see who had just joined our parade.

“See what I mean?” continued Shorty. “Fresh meat.”

I remembered how uncomfortable I felt when the 40-odd faces in front of me gave me that look.

“When you get to the middle, then you’re okay,” said Shorty. He was starting to enjoy his story because he had noticed I wasn’t the only one eavesdropping.

“It’s human nature. Once you realise you’ve made it this far, you know you can hang in there till the grand finale.

“Do you know which is the longest day in prison?” he asked Inkman. “The last,” he said without waiting for a reply.

“Look at us. The closer we get to the front, the slower the queue seems to move.”

He was right.

“When you hit the front, and you’re the next one to be served, time stands still. Imagine waking up in your cell knowing today you will taste freedom. But only at 5pm. That’s when time is at its cruellest.”

We waited in silence, and after another eternity I eventually pushed the door open to feel the sunlight on my face.

Freedom. I had served my time. Until the next time.

Danie Toerien

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