The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

10:59pm on Thursday, 28th April, 2005:

Queues and Lines


In Britain, we have queues; in America, they have lines.

The line to get through immigration at Chicago was about 20 minutes long; better than my experience in New York, but not as good as San Francisco. There was a muddled line, as at Disneyland, weaving in and out to force everyone into a small area. When you got to the head, there were about 15 booths, and a woman whose job it was to scan those booths for departing passengers so she could direct the next passenger to replace them.

What? A person, scanning for the next slot?

Go to any but the smallest Post Office in Britain and they have a single queue, with a cheapo display at the end giving the number of the next counter as it comes free. They have a recorded voice saying that the counter is "now free". It's simple, it's quick, and it works. The people at the counters only have to press a button to get the voice to speak and their number to appear. They don't have to wave their arms around because the person scanning for the next free slot hasn't seen them.

Britain may not lead the world in much, but queue technology is one field where we do excel...

Referenced by Queues.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).