Dissecting the queue

The BBC is developing something close to an obsession with our country’s queues.

Following on the heels of Daniel Pardo’s sublime video diary on what it takes to purchase eight items from a shopping list, we have the BBC Magazine going all Jane Goodall on the ins and outs of the country’s queues. The value added:

Often people join a queue without even knowing what’s on sale. They get into line and then they ask the shopper in front of them what they’re waiting for. It’s highly likely that the person in front has done exactly the same thing with the shopper in front of them.

We saw one queue that only moved forward because people at the front gave up waiting and went hunting elsewhere. But if you were further back in line – around the corner, say – you couldn’t see this. You just felt the illusion of momentum or progress and were encouraged to stay and wait a little longer. On this occasion there wasn’t even anything to wait for. There’d been a rumour that the shop might be getting a delivery of something – no one knew what – but in the end there was nothing – just an empty loading bay.

And so it goes on. It’s a surreal symbol of a system that’s broken – and frankly, makes little sense. Unsurprisingly people are angry and frustrated. On occasion this has meant that queues have degenerated into riots. And some shoppers have been robbed of their precious cargo while heading home.

I couldn’t help relate this story to Daniel’s amateur video of Maduro’s adoring (i.e. paltry) crowd as he inaugurated a bus line in Maracay. After all, they both show the serious cracks in the government’s propaganda machine.

If anything, stories like these prove that the government’s efforts to clamp down on the truth are failing, much like the government itself.

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