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Description: How good are you at waiting in line? Would your answer be different if you were thinking of waiting in line to pay for your groceries as compared to waiting in what, these days, passes for an ill-defined virtual line that will determine when you get your vaccination for Covid-19? Culturally, the British are very good at politely queuing for everything from busses to a tern at the bar in a pub. Other cultures use a more mob-based approach that can seem quite disorganized, but which often involves everyone there keeping mental track of who is next. In all of this, but especially in the line for vaccines, how do people respond to line crashers and do the responses vary depending on the reason for the line? Certainly, public shame and rebuke has been heaped on those who sneak into remote northern communities or dress up as old women in order to get shots they are not actually qualified to receive but what are the variables that seem to be involved in how people deal with queuing for a shot? Think about that for a moment and then read the article linked below to see what research suggests.

Source: How to Wait in Line, Malia Wollan, The New York Times Magazine.

Date: March 17, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by veverkolog from Pixabay

Article Link:

The number of opportunities to buy you way into a faster line are increasing. Disney has mastered the science of giving people things to look at and not making them contemplate (by seeing it all) just how long their wait line is. Disney also has fast passes that anyone can get (one of at a time) but also gives multiple fats passes to people who consider buying a timeshare at the resort. Universal Studios lets anyone pay a premium to avoid ride lines. High end tour companies are currently offering trips to Dubai that include accommodation and vaccination and which have optional, extra cost, post vaccination desert safaris. Perhaps it is better that we do not hear much about how many people and who are taking advantage of such pricey options. Better that we wait in line virtually for our turn at a jab and properly distance when actually in line at a clinic when we have out appointment. The phrase “we are all in this together” has been used a LOT throughout the pandemic and perhaps it is better if we do not look too closely at examples and situations where things are not really playing out that way. We have enough stress as it is.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. When are people good about waiting in lines and when are they not so good at it?
  2. How are waiting for a place on a Disneyland ride and for a vaccination the same and different Psychologically?
  3. What might government and health officials learn from the research about queuing that could help them managing the Covid-19 vaccine rollout?

References (Read Further):

Larson, R. C. (1987). OR forum—perspectives on queues: Social justice and the psychology of queueing. Operations research, 35(6), 895-905. Link

Belenky, A. S., & Larson, R. C. (2006). To queue or not to queue. OR/MS Today, 33, 30-34. Link

An, L., Machra, M., Moser, A. M., Simonovikj, S., & Larson, R. C. (2019). Queues in service systems: Some unusual applications. In Handbook of Service Science, Volume II (pp. 327-348). Springer, Cham. Link

Alexander, M., MacLaren, A., O’Gorman, K., & White, C. (2012). Priority queues: Where social justice and equity collide. Tourism Management, 33(4), 875-884. Link

LARSON, R. C. (1987). THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OUEUEING. Operations Research, 35(6). Link