At the opening time of 9am there was already a gathering of 20 customers outside the door of the bank. Upon opening I discovered I was the only one who turned up with a deposit form already filled in, so I got to be the first in the queue. There are seats… always a bad sign when you were hoping for prompt attention.
Somehow, although the doors had only just opened, there was already a woman inside being served by the solo bank clerk. As one by one the customers completed their slips and took their seats beside me, so too did the minutes on the clock tick by. In fact, I, as the first customer in the bank that morning, was finally served a full 20 minutes after entering the establishment.
A quick bit of maths told me that about six and a half hours of potential human endeavour had been wasted before I was served. This is very common here, be it in the bank, the post office, any government office. In a country where so many are unemployed, two very serious problems could be solved at the same time.
Oh, and in case you are thinking I should have used online banking that’s not really an option as the bank charges a fee for every online transaction and then the receiving bank charges a fee for the payee to withdraw!!!
The flipside to the queue is the lack of manners this evokes from the impatient, and the remarkable effect it has on matter. It would be impossible to count the number of times I have apparently vanished. I will be next to be served but out of nowhere someone will jump in front and (as I have developed a particularly assertive streak when queuing now) I make a scene and as they beat a retreat, they will simply say “Sorry, I didn’t see you there.”
The need for assertiveness is also required because in most cases, the person serving will not make any attempt to invoke fairness in these situations. They leave it up to the customers to deal with the issue of good manners and simply serve the person who is in their face.