It took me thirty minutes in a stationary queue to decide to go another way to work this morning. Why?
Well, the queue was due to congestion at the junction where I was trying exit the motorway. But no, I wasn’t wondering about the reason for the queue. I was wondering why I took evasive action – and why I waited half an hour to do that. Hmmm. I’m sure there is a huge amount of psychology behind queuing. Or not queuing. (According to this article in the Guardian, people only wait six minutes in a queue.) In any case, these were some of the things that went through my mind as a I joined the line:
Firstly, I felt a bit smug that I was in the right lane. And looked with some disdain at drivers trying to cut in.
Next, I started to question whether queuing was the right choice. Would it perhaps be quicker to continue to the next junction, turn around and come back again? But what if the congestion is just as bad in the other direction. Probably. Better stay put.
Then anger. “I set off extra early this morning so that I could get on with some really important things before 10am. How dare the traffic be this bad! And how silly of me not to have used the earlier exit … ” (Which I never do. But I could have if I’d been psychic.)
Then real discomfort. Having now been in the queue for nearly thirty minutes, surely it would be crazy to give up and try another option. But on the other hand, we’ve only moved about 100 yards and the exit is over a mile to go. The uncertain, unexplained wait is excruciating. Not even a mention on the radio traffic news to ease the pain.
This must have been the tipping point. Finally, I decided to take action. And how wonderful that felt. Driving off and leaving the rest of the queue to its destiny. Heading on to the next junction and then wending my way back through the Wiltshire countryside. To arrive at the office ninety minutes later than planned … Possibly later than if I’d waited longer in the queue? Who knows.
Niggling doubts? As I reached the clogged up exit I glimpsed, all too fleetingly, a possible way out. A split decision – to cut in front or not to cut in front? Too strong the sense that queue jumping is just not acceptable. But a small pang of later regret, nonetheless. Or should I have just waited it out? I’m not an impatient person and having lived in Russia in the early 1990s, I’m actually not bad at queuing.
But it’s not about the queue. It never was. It’s about problem analysis and decision-making. About trusting in the choices you make. Which in turn is about following your own path, not being too hard on yourself and learning from your mistakes. All food for thought on a Monday morning. (Particularly when it’s also about not over-analysing!)
I’ve been in France with my family so last week was mostly catching up and progressing various ongoing projects like our preparations for International Women’s Day and World Heritage Day; the new Business Plan, our 2017 Annual Report and the next steps for implementing our new constitution. Having spent a week with my young people, I was delighted to see this new report from Sharon Waterworth about the INTO Africa Encourage African Youth Project, So heart-warming to see students from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe sharing their culture. ‘Makorokoto’ to one and all! (‘Congratulations’ in Shona.)
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!