"I'm British; I know how to queue."
People standing in line to do various tasks. Usually a comedy trope, the joke being one or more of the following:
- The line is insufferably long or service slow, often to such a degree that people grow beards, raise families etc.;
- May involve cutting or place-saving;
- The task itself is... unorthodox;
- "It's a queue! It must be important! Let's queue!" People see others standing in line and assume that whatever they're waiting for is important, or at the very least worth the wait;
- Queuing for something that should be urgent, quick or will be unpleasant;
- Spending a great deal of time (a significant part of an episode, if not its entirety) queuing for something only for it to be the wrong queue, or for the till at the end to shut just as the character(s) get to the front.
Frequent butts of this gag are banks, amusement parks
, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or any similarly over-bureaucratic institution
If people plan
for a ridiculously long wait in line, it's a Ticket Line Campout
. If the queue uses sequential tickets instead of simple position in line, it's Take a Number
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Anime and Manga
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, there's a fake ad for a Germany sim, to simulate life through a German's eyes. He's standing in a horribly long line with a slow Greek cashier making conversation with a Spaniard. The lines not moving. Italy butts in. Hilarity Ensues.
- As per the page quote, Arthur and co. in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, queuing to petition for Trillian's release from their jail.
- In So Long and Thanks For All the Fish, Fenchurch explains that her parents named her for a railway station because they conceived her in the ticket queue. The fact that she's Arthur's Love Interest and they have lots of sex in that book actually makes the line from the movie Hilarious in Hindsight.
- Airplane: Passengers line up to slap/club/shoot a hysterical woman.
- Airplane II: The Sequel: The same woman in the scene above relives her experience in a courtroom, including getting slapped by the court personnel.
- When Jimmy is holding auditions in The Commitments, one guy sees everyone else queuing up and thinks Jimmy is selling drugs.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian has condemned prisoners standing in line waiting to be crucified:
Nisus Wettus: Crucifixion?
Nisus Wettus: Good. Out of the door, line on the left, one cross each.
Nisus Wettus: Crucifixion?
Mr. Cheeky: Er, no, freedom actually.
Nisus Wettus: What?
Mr. Cheeky: Yeah, they said I hadn't done anything and I could go and live on an island somewhere.
Nisus Wettus: Oh I say, that's very nice. Well, off you go then.
Mr. Cheeky: : No, I'm just pulling your leg, it's crucifixion really.
Nisus Wettus: [laughing] Oh yes, very good. Well...
Mr. Cheeky: Yes I know, out of the door, one cross each, line on the left...
- A joke recounted by Isaac Asimov and Mikhail Gorbachev, among others:
In a Communist country, citizens are in an hours-long queue for food. One man, growing frustrated, turns to the man beside him and declares: "Comrade, the shortage is all caused by the President's corruption! I shall go home, dig up the pistol buried in my garden, go to the palace, fight my way past his guards, and kill him, or die in the attempt!" He storms off.
An hour or so later, by which time the queue has moved forward by about half a block, he returns. "What happened?" his friend asks. The man shakes his head. "You think this is a long queue?"
- In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Inferno (and the original The Divine Comedy, though Niven plays up the humor and absurdity considerably more) people stand in long lines waiting to be judged in Hell.
- There's a line in Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets, "The Dutch were trying to beat the English for queuing, but that's silly because everyone knows that standing cheerfully in line is the English national sport." (again, see the page quote).
- Keith Laumer's short story "In the Queue". Nominated for the Hugo Award and Nebula Award. A story about a man in a society where people stand in queue for generations, with mobile "quebanas" to live in on the line.
- On Robert A. Heinlein's utopia world of Tertius, killing someone who cuts in line is considered "justifiable homicide", or rather, "homicide in the public interest" (that is, to be encouraged), as seen in his novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.
- One Calvin and Hobbes strip used several of these at once, with Mom running errands:
Mom: Fifteen people in line and the teller goes on break without a replacement... After I wait ten minutes, they open a new line for all the people behind me who have waited two minutes... I'm waiting to pay, and the cashier puts me on hold instead of the person on the telephone.
Cashier: (eventually) Have a nice day.
Mom: Too late.
- A classic Peanuts strip shows Charlie Brown waiting in line at the theater, hoping to be one of the first 1,500 children to get free candy bars. He lets Lucy go in front of him, and she becomes the 1,500th candy bar winner. According to Charles Schultz, this really happened to him.
- Monty - Moondoggie gets a job in a bank (temporarily) - he amuses himself by moving the velvet ropes around to get the customers to line up to a blank wall, creating "the Twilight Zone bank".
- A FoxTrot Sunday strip had the majority of the strip devoted to a ridiculously long airline check-in queue, with the final panel having Andy remark that she thinks she has forgotten the tickets.
- A regular part of player missions in the RPG Paranoia is battling your way through the queue (sometimes literally) to pick up the useless equipment you have been assigned.
- If. You're Lucky. Paranoia GMs can use the line for much deviltry. Such as: A Troubleshooter is in line at PLC waiting for a piece of equipment. At the desk (eventually) the clerk asks for the Troubleshooter's 386-XM-16 properly filled out. Troubleshooter does not have said form. Back to the end of the line. He gets to the desk again, only to hear that the form is correct, but they don't have the item and to come back the next Daycycle. He returns via the long line, to hear that the equipment is not at his security clearance level and he can't have it without committing treason. Now, the Troubleshooter may do one of two things: 1) the sensible and less-fun alternative, incurring the wrath of Friend Computer by going out unequipped, or 2) the much more fun and interesting way — sparking a riot in the PLC facility to sneak in and steal or otherwise obtain the item.
- League of Legends PvP matchmaking queue times can get pretty lengthy sometimes, especially once you reach the higher echelons of the ranked tier system and the pool of available competition dwindles to a small bunch of familiar faces. Lengthy log-in queues can form at times as well, especially just after a patch or a technical hickup.
- In Mass Effect 1, on Feros you encounter an enemy Krogan attempting to access restricted information, whose rant on how stupid the machine is gets interrupted when the computer warns him that there is a queue forming for the use of the console. Said queue, of course, being composed of the most badass person in the galaxy and two compatriots.
- Papers, Please: Every in-game day a huge queue forms of citizens eager to gain access to Arstotzka and it's up to the player to sort through them.
- In Postal 2 there is a queue at the bank when you go to cash your pay check on Day 1. Being Postal, you don't have to wait, then again, you don't have to grenade the line from the roof either. How's that for moral choice in games?
- There was a whole subsection in the original RollerCoaster Tycoon manual to discuss the word "queue" to any American who doesn't know what it means.
- The World of Warcraft Looking For Dungeon system. Introduced in patch 3.3, the system guarantees anyone a group with a dungeon cross server. At level 80 during Wrath of the Lich King, it rarely took 20 minutes to find a group, even for DPS during off peak, but during 85, the DPS roles had to wait for upwards of an hour. No wonder why the term "Queue Queue" could describe those many players' reactions.
- In addition to your chosen role, the time you have to wait can depend on the time of the day, when in the week you were doing it, and sometimes, when in an expansion (queue times for DPS were twice as long at the beginning of Mists of Pandaria as they are now).
- In Illusion of Gaia, a store in Euro has a queue, which you must wait in to gain entry.
- In one Homestar Runner cartoon, we see Homestar, Marzipan, and the King of Town standing in line at Bubs' Concession Stand... in front of a sign that says "Wait In Line: $5". Homestar turns to Marzipan and remarks "Best five bucks I ever spent."
- The Onion plays with this from time to time:
"Clinton takes leave of office to wait in line for Star Wars Episode 1
"Frugal Star Wars
fan already waiting outside second-run theater."
- Truth in Television: These are, of course, endemic at theme parks. The Disney Theme Parks handle them the best; a lot of effort goes into making the lines entertaining (because, of course, Disney knows you're going to be there for an hour or so). Short movies to explain the plot are common. Other examples include Grave Humor at The Haunted Mansion, decodable hieroglyphs at the Indiana Jones stunt show, and Twilight Zone memorabilia at Tower of Terror. And the queue for Expedition Everest is a startlingly realistic Himalayan base camp.
- The real standout is Star Tours (a Star Wars themed simulator type ride) with animatronic Droids putting on little shows all throughout the building. The line for that ride is so entertaining it actually could be its own walk-through attraction.
- They also handle being moved through the line if you're handicapped the best.
- Fast Pass is a bit of a zig-zagged example. On the one hand, it gives a specific time to get in a much shorter line. On the other hand, you ARE essentially standing in line for the right to stand in line. On a THIRD hand, certain rides are not connected to the rest of the Fast Pass system and do not keep track of the "one pending Fast Pass at a time" rule; with inside knowledge of which ones and enough Loophole Abuse, you can have two or three Fast Passes going on at all times.
- At the 2010 Nuit Blanche Art Festival in Toronto, there was an exhibit consisting of a sign encouraging people to "line up here!". What people didn't realize unless they read the guidebook was that the line itself was the art piece, and in reality it led nowhere.
- Queueing Theory deals with the mathematics of how queues operate and how they can be optimized.
- Also endemic at major shopping centers around Christmastime.
- Alton Towers offers fastpasses which let you jump to the front of the line, which unlike Disney Theme Parks's, can be used at any time, and also unlike Disney fastpasses, which you have to pay for.
- In his 1975 book The Russians, based on his service as New York Times Moscow correspondent, Headrick Smith noted that the "It's a queue! It must be important!" version was very common behavior of Muscovites during his stay in Moscow. Basically, Muscovites had to line up to buy anything worth having, and the very sight of a line of their fellow citizens would cause them to assume that something worth buying would be found at the business end of the queue.