We love queueing don't we? Stick some miserable sod behind a checkout and we'll spend hours standing patiently in line to give them money for some overpriced tat. But what if someone pushes in? What if someone breaks the unwritten code of queueing?
A few days ago in the supermarket, me and my other half, Mrs Pie (not her real name) approached the tills with a trolley full of essentials. The tills were busy, unusually very busy, but eventually we saw one with only one person waiting to be served. So, we headed for it.
This is going somewhere, honest.
Just as we got to the till, two little children (probably about 8 and 10), ran in front of us and stood there, behind the woman waiting. It's okay, I thought, they're with her, probably been looking at sweets or games or whatever. They were slightly blocking the conveyor belt so we couldn't start unloading. But that's okay, we're British after all, we love waiting.
Then, it happened. Another trolley pushed by a woman appeared beside us and tried, slowly, to force it's way in front. Well, that wasn't going to happen was it? I maneuvered the trolley a bit to block her off, but the kids in front were stood in the way so I could only partially obstruct her. These same kids were now looking at this new woman and smiling.
At that point, Mrs Pie turned round to me, she'd sussed what was going on. I was slowly getting there too. These two kids had been sent out in an advance party to sneak in and pilfer our till position.
It came to a head when the woman tried to put a chicken on the conveyor belt, claiming it as hers. Well, Mrs Pie, not known for her shyness, intervened. "Excuse me, what are you doing?" she said. "They saved the place for me," the woman replied. The two kids by now had stopped smiling. Expressions of horror and fear gripped their little faces. They knew something was wrong, knew they'd been used as pawns in some power-mongering, queue-pushing act of anti-politeness.
What did I do, I hear you ask. Well I was trying to think of something to say, some killer, knockout winning line. But, it never came. Six hours later I'd come up with at least three blinders. Maybe if the world had paused at that moment for six hours, I'd have thought of something, but it didn't.
Mrs Pie said something else, something like, "If we'd have known they were saving a place we wouldn't have queued here, would we?" To that the woman replied, "Well if it makes you happy, go on, you have the place."
Well, steam and smoke billowed from Mrs Pie's ears as the other woman walked away. Everyone within a three queue radius was looking at us. The checkout girl was ready to call security, the Police and probably the UN. I eventually thought of something to say. "Just leave it," I said to Mrs Pie, quietly.
My considered and thoughtful attempt the diffuse the situation didn't. The wrath of Mrs Pie found a new home. The look I got could have melted Satan himself.
Anyway, is getting your kids to push in and save places really acceptable queueing behaviour? I think not. Maybe that's what's wrong with this country etc, etc.
Work continues at a fast pace on new book #1, which might be called, "It's different this time."