「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


To queue or not to queue

By Tan Ying Zhen


What is the longest time you have ever queued for anything voluntarily?

I remember queuing for two hours — in Kyoto's signature summer heat and humidity no less — for cold matcha and houjicha desserts at Nakamura Tokichi's flagship store. Tourists were out in full force that weekend and we had to wait outdoors. The shop staff put out paper fans for everyone to use, but we were too tired from the heat to even fan ourselves.

When we finally got seated, every mouthful of ice cream and quivery jelly was pure unbridled pleasure. If we hadn't waited for so long, would it have been just as delicious? I'm not sure. Would I queue for it again? Probably not.

When I told my Japanese friends about it, they were half surprised and half amused. One said, "We thought only Japanese people would queue for so long just to eat at a famous shop!"

It was my turn to be surprised. Queuing was also known to be Singapore's national pastime.

Singaporeans queue for many things. One of the most famous queues was the one for Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel figures in 2000. The six pairs of figurines, which could only be bought along with meal sets from a certain fast food restaurant, were dressed in wedding costumes of different cultures. A new pair was released every week and crowds formed as early as sunrise on the release date. Some people even started queuing the night before.

Other things that Singaporeans queue for range from food fads at particular shops and free cable car rides on National Day, to concert tickets and limited-edition fashion collections.

Sometimes, people may join a queue even if they are not sure what it is for. In a hawker centre, for instance, the stall with the longest queue will attract even customers who may not have tasted their food before. The typical Singaporean rationale? If there's such a long queue, it's probably because the food is really good and worth queuing for!

It may sound a little silly, and it probably is. I've seen how many foreign tourists look baffled when they come across long queues at some restaurants. Singaporeans know it too, and we often poke fun at ourselves for our passion for queuing.

Then again, perhaps there's a certain sense of pleasure in queuing for something you really want and finally getting it. Besides, queuing is a sign of civic society. When we see a queue, we know how to play by the rules: Respect the queue and everyone else waiting. If you really want what's at the end of it, just join the queue and try to enjoy yourself while you are in it!



The Japan Times ST: September 4, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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