The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Thursday, July 15, 2004

Queuing Theory 

Lines.  They're everywhere.  At the movie theater, at the grocery store, at the mall, you can't avoid them.  I have my own personal theory about how lines work that I've developed based on personal observation over the years.  I was reminded of my personal Queue Theory today when I made a quick stop at the grocery story for a single item.  The parking lot was packed, and the story looked pretty full when I grabbed my one measly little item and walked towards the checkout lines.  There in front of me were 4 lines with 3 huge carts in each of them.  I thought to myself... Jesus, I have one item, and there is no Express Line at this particular store.  Then I saw it...  A checkout with nobody in line.  I stuck my head in the lane, and asked the clerk if it was open.  She said yep, and I was out of there in a flash.  She even asked if I wanted a bag for my one little item.  I just laughed and shook my head.
So what's going on here?  My personal theory is that people are comforted by lines.  If someone sees an empty line, or even a shorter line, then they think that there is something wrong there.  They don't ask, they don't check, they just get in the next line which gets longer and longer.  After all, if there are already people in this long line, then I will be ok to get in that line too.  Personally, I go to the short line every time.  People can be a lot like sheep sometimes.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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