Wait For Your Turn in a Long Queue

Sometimes it becomes very boring and monotonous to keep waiting in a long queue, particularly ones that seem to move very slowly. At times, you may feel tempted to yell at the person at the counter to be a little faster, or you may simply feel like leaving the line altogether. This becomes all the more painstaking, if your feet are aching, and you're longing to sit or relax.

Here are some ways to deal with long queues, along with suggestions to help you to feel that the time spent waiting has been used productively.


  1. Keep a small, thin book handy. You can keep a book with short stories which you can quickly finish while waiting for your turn, or you can keep the paperback version of a novel that you wanted to read, or are currently reading.
    • If reading stories or novels is not your cup of tea, you can keep pamphlets, brochures or even the day’s newspaper with you, so that you can catch up with the things that you had to read, but could not find the time to do so, otherwise.
    • If reading is simply not something that you're game for, then you can turn on your iPod for music, audio books, or videos, or switch to the music folders in your mobile phone and enjoy the music while moving along in the queue.
  2. Play phone games. Modern day cell phones offer a variety of interesting stuff to pass time. For example, the games in your cell phone can be a good way to keep yourself engaged during the waiting time, which you would have spent getting bored otherwise.
  3. Catch up on your phone calls. Call up your friends and relatives while waiting to go ahead. In our busy lifestyle, we hardly find the time to catch up with friends. This is the perfect time to talk to them and keep in touch.
  4. Watch TV. In many stores, doctor's waiting rooms, public service offices (such as license payment or unemployment benefits offices), airport lounges, etc., they have a TV installed near the place where they want people to queue up, to keep you entertained. Allow yourself the opportunity to just sit back and chill; you might even learn something new if it's a channel or show you'd normally never watch.
    • Equally, you may find the TV irritating. Ask the people in charge to turn down the volume if the TV is blaring at you, or hide inside your iPod again.
  5. Play word games or imagination games. Look at the signs around you and think of some word or imagination games to pass the time. Some ideas include:
    • Word associations - how many associations can you make sparked by reading one sign?
    • Making words from within the words you can read on the signs. Make as many as you can!
    • Making up histories about the building from the names and information on the signs.
    • Take a small notebook and some pencils. Play tic-tac-toe or hangman with someone else in the line. You can even play mental tic tac toe if you'd like.
    • People watch – try guessing about people's backgrounds and motivations for being in the queue with you.
  6. Make friends. If mixing with new people is something that you like doing, then this is an excellent opportunity to indulge in it. You can strike up a conversation with the person behind you or in front of you.
    • Sympathize with each other on how long the wait is – this can be a good ice breaking thing to discuss. However, try to gauge if the person is game for the conversation. If you do not find them contributing much, maybe you are just intruding into their personal space.
    • Not just talking, you can also take turns with the person behind you or in front of you to keep each other’s place in the queue secured, so that you can go around again and see if you want something more or would like to exchange something, or to get a coffee or something to eat. Or, if the wait is very long, you can take turns to sit somewhere, while the other keeps the place. However, make sure that you do not upset anyone by doing this; keep a sense of humor and make it clear that it's a sharing arrangement anyone can join in.
  7. Bring a snack. Many times, you can forget to eat in your tightly packed schedule and if waiting is involved, you might miss the chance altogether. Use the time in the queue to eat something healthy and filling, so that you keep up with your daily nutrition requirements.
  8. Look after your health. Queue-waiting can come with its own share of irritations and even hazards. Here are some things to keep in mind:
    • Dress for the weather. If it's cold, rug up and if it's hot, don't wear too much. Also have food and drink that keeps you warm or cool, and hydrated for a long wait.
    • If you feel a sense of panic, talk yourself through it. If you can't overcome it, ask someone in the queue to hold your place by telling them you feel sick and need take a break. Go and find a quiet spot for a bit until you feel better. If this doesn't improve things, you may need to consider going home.
    • Stretch. Standing in a queue for a long time can be tiring, so do a few stretches now and then if it's a particularly long wait.
  9. Be patient. Finally, the best thing you can do about waiting in a long queue is to accept the situation for what it is and to simply ride it out. It won't last forever even though it may feel like it at the time, and it will soon be a memory. Rely on good preparation beforehand (food, drink, appropriate clothes) and your determination to meet your mission to get you through the boredom of the wait.
  10. Write. If you have a notebook and a pen or pencil with you, you can draw or write to pass the time.
    • If you are a writer, or soon-to-be one, this would be useful time to get another chapter or a few pages done.


  • Try to avoid the line in the first place.
    • Do errands at times of the day that are less busy. Lunch time may be the worst time of day to go to your local post office. If so, plan to go to the post office in the morning. Better yet, bring exact change or a credit card and you may be able to use the machines in the lobby rather than waiting in line.
    • Find out if you can do what you need to online or by phone. It's true that such systems do
    • Make an appointment or reservation. It won't shorten every line, but it will allow you to bypass many.
    • Visit a less popular location. Would it be worth a walk or drive a little out of your way, if it meant spending less time in line?
    • Do your part. When you reach the front of the line, have whatever you need ready so you can breeze right through.
  • Work out. Yes, believe it or not, you can actually exercise while waiting on a queue. Keep your knees close and bend one knee to lift your foot off the ground. As you try to maintain your balance, you'll be working your abdominal muscles! Don't fall over‼
  • Bring a chair (or even a cushion). This may sound silly, but in some cases, you know that there is going to be a long line and that you will have no choice but to get into that long line, and then wait for several hours. If you are going to be waiting in a long line for a flu shot, for example, during a season when supplies are short, bring along a lightweight folding chair and sit in it. Stand up and move the chair along when the line starts to move.
  • There is so much that you can do to make your waiting in a queue interesting and productive. All you need to do is think about possibilities. This way you can also make good utilization of your time, that you would have wasted otherwise, waiting.


  • Don't talk so loudly that you might disturb everyone else. This is very important for cell phone conversations too.
  • Don't consume hard drinks or smoke; it can be very annoying for people around.
  • Do not attempt to force a conversation with a person, who does not seem to be interested in talking to you. They may not choose to speak to you for many reasons, so don't take it personally.

Things You'll Need

  • A book
  • Food (preferably some dry food like sandwiches/ nuts)
  • A drink (juice/ milk/ soft drink)
  • A friend to give you moral support
  • Notebook and pencil/pen

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