Scottish Daily Mail

Always in the slowest queue at the checkout? Here’s why

- By Tammy Hughes

IF you always find other till queues move faster than yours, you’re not alone.

But it is not that you are making the wrong choice on each occasion. One expert argues that the problem lies elsewhere – in how your brain perceives time.

According to new book Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster? we experience time differentl­y when engaged in a task, as opposed to waiting.

So, when shoppers pick the fastest line, they fail to notice because they are too busy packing up bags and paying. But while waiting to be served, they spot other lines moving faster.

Author David Andrews said: ‘ Our minds are rigged against us. Regardless of time actually spent, the “slowest” line will always be the one we are standing in.’

He added that probabilit­y also plays a part – if there are three queues there is a two in three chance that the others will move faster than yours. Mr Andrews’s fascinatio­n with queuing dates back to his childhood in Bucharest, Romania, where waiting in line to buy food was commonplac­e. His book is a brief history of queuing along with a list of tips on how to choose the quickest line. He explains that contrary to popular belief Britons have not always been good queuing, writing: ‘The myth that the British are willing, patient and even eager to stand in line dates to Second World War propaganda during a time of rationing. Queues were in fact often tense and politicall­y charged affairs that had to be policed in case of riots.’

But the British became so good at queuing that even looters in the 2011 riots were said to have waited for their turn before stealing from stores. By contrast Chinese authoritie­s put up signs at the 2008 Olympics reminding citizens that, ‘It’s civilised to queue’.

One way to cut queuing time is to pick the line with the most men in it, according to experts at the University of Surrey. They found men were more impatient than women and more likely to give up on a queue if it was too slow.

Other tips include picking a line on the left, because most people are right-handed and will naturally veer to the right.

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