Posted February 19, 2007on:
He loved queues. He couldn’t wait for that beginning of the month when his pension would be credited in his account and he would have to go to the local bank and withdraw it. He could have gone in the middle of the month to make his withdrawal, but of course he wouldn’t. There were no queues then. Getting an ATM card could have saved him a lot of effort, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He would ignore the implorations his son, the bank representative distributing ATM forms and calls from the customer service department of the bank.
He got up early that day, dressed in his old suit, smoothed his white beard and made his way to the bank with much gaiety. Not that he didn’t get frustrated and angry at having to stand for hours in the queue. But he loved that. He reveled in the feeling of indignation. Anger causes masks to fall away and inhibitions to be discarded. He grew animated and vocal. Like a player on the field getting his rhythm, his groove. He would get out of line now and then to give the counter clerk a piece of his mind on efficiency. He would give way to females with gallant chivalry. God save the one who tried to bypass the queue and sneak directly to the counter window.
He always got talking when in queue. His company was the person behind him and next to him in line. The conversation invariably started with the counter clerks inefficiency, and inadvertently veered off to the follies of the modern world, with its vile minds and moralities, to sons being corrupted by daughter in laws, and fond reminisces of the golden age. There was no better forum to express his theories – to vent his soul? “The main problem with today’s world is that there are no values” “The main problem with today’s world is there is no discipline” “The main problem with today’s world is that it is too materialistic” “The main problem with today’s world is that there is no respect” “I used to touch my teacher’s feet every time I saw him”. He felt an inward satisfaction when he observed himself with the silver in his hair, frailty of structure, stoop in gait making those statements. It never struck him that the permanent welt on his thigh was his teacher’s doing, and he had hated him for it.
One day he almost lost it. The bank had introduced a token system to do away with queues. His whole being rebelled against the idea of sitting and waiting. What right had they, to take away the sole joy of his life? He had to resist this move, anyway, anyhow, at all costs. He was not alone. There were others like him. He with his compatriots went to the management and complained. The new system was to the customers’ detriment he argued. The management had no option but to withdraw the initiative. After all, most of the banks customers were like him.
He loved it went the counter closed before he could reach it. It meant another day at the bank.