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Essay

Waiting

By Samantha Loong

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As they say, good things come to those who wait. I'm pretty sure, however, that everyone has their limits when they're waiting for food. Specifically, food at a food festival.

A few months ago at a gyoza festival in Osaka, I found myself waiting so long in a snaking line that I composed most of this essay during that time. "I hope the wait is worth it," said a friend I was messaging at the time.

When it comes to food, however, I don't believe that anything is ever worth waiting more than 30 minutes in line for. By that time, you're so hungry that even a stale piece of bread can seem like it was prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

The only way to pass the time was to people-watch. There are several kinds of people usually present in a food festival queue.

There's the Festival Veteran, who has prepared for this wait and has their own chair, sweat towel, umbrella and drinks.

There's the Sneak, who's most likely going to cut in front of you at the last minute.

There are the Lovebirds, who want everyone around them to know how much in love they are by repeatedly and openly expressing their reluctance to part in order to dispose of some rubbish.

And then of course, there are mostly people like me. Waiting alone, looking at their phone.

I was standing next to a young woman who was also waiting alone. I wondered what she was thinking about to pass the time.

Was she also quietly seething at picking the wrong line? Was she happy that this gyoza stall was clearly the most popular? Had she, from sheer hunger, gone into a Zen-like higher state of being? I snuck a quick look at her face — nope, she looked just as 'hangry' (hungry and angry) as I felt.

At one point, a camera crew arrived and the male presenter weaseled his way to the front of the line to film himself tucking into some gyoza ahead of everyone else.

Several women initially bristled at this queue jumper, but luckily for him and his camera crew, he had good looks and a well-fitting pair of pants on him. The women stopped complaining and looked on. Some waved.

In total, I found myself waiting the longest I've ever waited for food — two hours. And I managed to do it without killing anyone.

Was the gyoza delicious? Yes. Was it worth the wait? No. As another friend said, "At least no other queue will ever feel as long." She was probably right, but I don't think I'll take any risks. Universal Studios Japan can wait — because I certainly can't.

待つこと

フードフェスティバルで屋台の行列に並んでいた筆者。一緒に並んでいる人の様子を観察しつつ、2時間も待ってようやくおいしい餃子にありついた。ただ、行列で待つのはもうこりごりのようだ。

The Japan Times ST: September 1, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年9月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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