COVID-19: Lineups and Queues


As we attempt to live as normally as possible under our present conditions, it is evident that the ‘old’ reality has sure taken a beating from COVID-19. The ‘new’ reality is proving a bit onerous to come to grips with for many of us. For instance, jumping off a sidewalk to observe the effective preventative concept of social or physical distancing still feels rude to this uber-polite Canadian. 

With the exception of airports, where lines are just part of the fun, I’m more likely to ‘give a miss’ to essentially anything that requires me to wait

The seemingly endless handwashing – on the way in, on the way out, maybe once or twice while in the store – takes its toll on the skin of the hands, giving a whole new angle to this year’s Palm Sunday.  In my opinion, the makers of hand sanitizers have failed miserably. The stuff flew off store shelves a couple of months ago, and in my part of the world at least has yet to be replenished. Surely they can make that stuff faster; I know it’s mostly alcohol, but it’s not like it has to age!

But as we wend our way through this awful coping experience the one thing that strikes me most is the new concept of lining up; for almost everything. All things being equal – and they certainly are not currently – I am not a liner upper. With the exception of airports, where lines are just part of the fun, I’m more likely to ‘give a miss’ to essentially anything that requires me to wait. Needless to say, I am not a good tourist, nor would I have fared well during wartime rationing.

Courtesy Michael Walsh

Now we line up, queue if you prefer, for things we never did before. To gain access to the bank, supermarket, or liquor store requires standing outside while maintaining an appropriate physical distance. Meanwhile, a security guard, armed with a squirt bottle of sanitizer, holds your shopping future in his or her germ-free hand. 

I have noticed in my time in lines that some people are better at it than others. There is one sure sign of the bad liner upper. It is of the utmost importance that as soon as you can advance, even just a few paces, you do so. The person leaning on their luggage cart checking emails and not taking up the gap that has formed in front of them immediately, regardless of the fact it will make no difference in the end, is one of life’s scofflaws. You see, it’s psychological; I have to know that the line is moving. 

You see, it’s psychological; I have to know that the line is moving

Even the physical act of lining up varies. In North America, while lining up for a bus the line forms parallel to the vehicle, or where it will be once it arrives. A person in line can touch the side of the bus as they make their way to the door. In the United Kingdom people queuing for a bus do so in a manner that those joining the line can see the front of the approaching bus. 

In Canada and I believe the UK we stand ‘in’ line while many in the USA stand ‘on’ line. 

At one time the only kind of lineup you had to worry about was the one in a police station. Before the proliferation of laser printers that could pump out photos of suspects and average folks to be used in a virtual lineup the process involved real people standing in a line. A witness or victim would, from a safe position, either point out the culprit or not.


A lineup also was the roster for a multi-act performance.  Woodstock had a lineup of performers that included many of the top acts of the sixties. Ah, if only all we had to concern ourselves with were musical gatherings.


Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

2 thoughts on “COVID-19: Lineups and Queues

  1. Re hand sanitizers: did you know Jameson’s in Ireland diverted some of their alcohol distilling to make hand sanitizers, it so Chris says. Lin

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Except to take out or bring in the trash or packages and once a week, drive the car that’s sitting idly in the driveway, we haven’t even been out, much less on line. I suppose sooner or later, we will have to emerge, but I’m not looking forward to it. Not one bit.

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