The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City tops the line in queues

In Calcutta, we spend long hours in queues — longer than people in other metros. But we score over Chennai and Mumbai with our patient approach towards waiting in line. And when we lose patience, we really lose it — producing the highest percentage of angry people in queue.

These are findings from a study conducted by ACNielsen for NCR Corporation, a leading technology provider for retail and finance firms, to understand people’s reactions while waiting in queues.

According to the survey, conducted among 1,782 people across the country, 89 per cent respondents in Calcutta — the highest in the country — wait in queues for at least an hour every week.

“Ours is a city of queues. Everywhere, from the airport to the Metro Railway station, you will have to stand in queues. Even to enter a restaurant, you will have to wait in a queue,” says Daisy Mazumdar, a postgraduate student of Calcutta University.

She doesn’t keep count of the time spent in queues but the girl, in her early 20s, admits her impatience with queues.

The survey finds 82 per cent people like her in Calcutta, which is lower than the national average of 85 per cent.

Impatience with queues is the highest in Mumbai, 96 per cent, followed by 94 per cent in Chennai.

The survey also reveals that 45 per cent respondents complain of the long waiting time for bill payment. “I used to pay my own electricity and telephone bills. But as it used to involve long waiting hours, I have signed up for electronic clearing schemes,” recounts Souvik Roy, a self-employed person. In Calcutta, agencies have sprung up, which offer the service of bill payment against a price.

But queues are still very much a part of our lives. According to the survey, 29 per cent respondents in Calcutta have a long waiting time in banks, followed by ticket counters, 26 per cent. Across all cities, waiting time in banks is the biggest problem.

As the focus of the survey is on queue frustration, it also identifies how people react to long waiting time in queues.

Over 77 per cent people in Calcutta — the highest among the metros — get angry and start arguments while waiting in queues.

“Waiting in line leads to a kind of anxiety as people start thinking that they will not get what they are looking for. So, a form of rivalry sets in and that results in anger and arguments,” explains Anuttoma Banerjee, a psychologist.

Though the survey remains silent on the reason behind heightened rivalry in rows in Calcutta, Daisy’s comments on solving the queue problem by deploying more people highlights one of the reasons.

“Even when there are three counters at Metro stations with three people sitting behind them, they will operate only one counter and keep the other two shut… Work culture is the biggest problem,” sums up Daisy.

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