The Great British Madness!

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The British Post Office is a fairly depressingly dire place. But we need it. I think.

The queue at my local Post Office always reaches the door, and yet of the six tills, only two are only ever manned. There is usually someone else wandering around in the background but they never appear to be doing very much apart from talking to the teller whom you have just waited twenty minutes for. Hence, irritation starts to rise with ferocity as you feel you have deserved and want to claim the tellers undivided attention for just a few minutes. You have stood beside the birthday card stands, the array of stationery and the plastic toys for sale for too long. And yet, if you stand for long enough, you start believing that you actually need some paperclips with coloured unicorns attached to them.

Then, uproar. A man comes in, bypasses the entire queue and heads straight to a momentarily empty till. The wretched teller is ignorant of his blatant lack of adherence to the British queuing system. The line of waiting men, women, grumpy children, angry old women and a random dog begin by hissing amongst each other. The young lady beside in front of me sucks through her teeth and says quietly, “Excuse me?” in disbelief at this. I however am clearly feeling hormonal.

“Excuse me! Are you not aware of this queue?” What should have been uttered as a polite question comes out as an overly loud bellow of indignation.

All eyes on me.

Man looks horrified and scuttles amid apologies to the end of the queue.

I am mortified.

“Oh God,” I whisper to my lady friend, “Now I feel like such a cow.”

“Nah!” She says. “We’re all with you.” And as I look around, I am being given nods and smiles of approval, apart from the rather sheepish man.

Unity. Yes, there is strength in unity!

Although, having come from Scotland, had this happened in Glasgow where everyone calls a spade a spade, this would never have started. Well, it might have, but there would have been a full-blown punch-up, the police would have arrived, someone, probably me would have been tasered, ending with all and sundry having a good glass of whiskey and a three hour discussion.

Oh I do love a bit of human interaction. So good for the soul.

Katie x

What makes you really cross?

32 thoughts on “The Great British Madness!”

  1. Wow. Love this so much. That’s got me going. What happened to post offices just selling stamps. I haven’t come in here to buy sweets, car insurance, toys, books, toy dinosaurs. I don’t appreciate standing in the counter queue and having to watch the tv adverts about car insurance and premium bonds, then being told to get into the other queue as this is the one for car tax. ……..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Queue etiquette is such a fundamental element of British society. Break it at your peril!

    Our local post office only has one till, so one can’t get too annoyed if it’s manned and the queue is going out of the door! Bit irritating when someone opens a bottomless carrier bag of jiffy bags destined for eBay though and needs the postcode typed in for every single one… Oh and then as the queue grows and starts to encroach along the counter where the main shop till is, you have this awkward shuffly dance as people trying to retain that balance between their personal space and maintaining their place in the queue, at the same time not interfering with the other ever growing queue… What a kerfuffle.

    What I find annoying is being offered stuff you don’t want. Just yesterday I was in Superdrug buying shower gel and deodorant, and was offered a SIM card on Superdrug Mobile. What?? Why don’t people stick to what they’re known for and best at? One goes to Superdrug for anything either medicine or health and beauty related, not a new SIM for their mobile. Bizarre…

    Oh and in a local WHSmith you now get asked “would you like some of our chocolate on special offer today?” at the till. No, if I wanted some, I would have bought some (none of it’s dark enough anyway Katie, so why would I buying anything based on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk?). How many people actually say “ooh yes I’m SO pleased you asked” as opposed to a begrudging “no thank you, just my magazine, book and stationery” through gritted teeth…

    So I guess all of these comes under a wider irritation of mine, online and off, advertising and attempting selling to me of stuff I neither need nor want and know perfectly well where to get, should I ever need or want it…

    Thanks for asking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s made me laugh! As for WHSmith and the chocolate; what on earth is that all about? I just don’t understand it. I can only assume that some people actually do take them up on the offer of chocolate-on-a-whim. Ahhh but perhaps you and I have a more sophisticated palate! 😉 You with your Green and Blacks dark (I shall say no more) and me with my, well, I’m cheaper than you actually, Lindt milk chocolate. Perhaps there’s not such a market for these? Now of course if they were offering ginger nuts that might be a different story altogether. And as an aside, why do they always look so darn miserable in there? Maybe they should be eating the chocolate to cheer themselves up?


  3. Nobody has told the students here at the Uni about queuing. Getting a bus is a free-for-all.

    Post offices. I totally agree.

    Banks too. Insufficient staff because they are trying to force everyone online. Then I get behind someone who HAS gone online but needs the counter staff to sort out a glitch – so much for efficiency. And the branch on campus – never go in at lunch time because I guarantee you will be suck behind an overseas student arranging a complicated money transfer.

    I need a lie down now..

    But good on you for putting the queue jumper in his place!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying … 😬
      Ahhh, now banks drive me mad too. There is one in Putney which is trying a new approach whereby there are no specific tills, just a couple of rather vague people who seem to take forever to do nothing. However, they are justifying this new and modern approach by having a woman with a clipboard by the door asking how she can help us. She then tries to send us off the machine in the wall, but actually I want to speak to a person and not shout at a machine. I don’t like it at all! Besides the place always looks rather dirty and I want to get my Jif out (and dispose of the woman with the clipboard).

      Golly, now I need a lie down too … Do hope you’re well?
      Katie x


  4. Your post office sounds like a whimsical candy store compared to mine at the stuffy U.S. postal office, though we both suffer from long lines and hardly any employees at their window tills. Last time I waited a whole hour while there was only one employee. Quite annoying was the person behind me was clearly getting impatient and every time I moved up with the line, he moved way too close up behind me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! It’s really interesting how different we all are. I’m (still) reading a book by an anthropologist called Kate Fox called ‘Watching the English’. It’s fabulous and points out in minute detail all our little ways, which to a ‘foreigner’ must be extraordinarily difficult to comprehend … she’s brilliant and writes of everything from queuing to pubs to the way we drive. I love it, but yes, our queuing etiquette does differ from the Americans!

      Liked by 1 person

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