Why it always feels like you're in the slow queue.


Image: iStock.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: you’re standing in a queue at the supermarket, fuming, because it feels like your line is the slowest one. Of course.

We’ve all been there. So why does this happen, especially when you deliberately choose the shortest queue with the checkout guy who scans things faster than the speed of light?

In his new book Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster?, David Andrews answers this common frustration.

It’s actually because we have different experiences of time, depending on how busy or bored we are.

Check out the queue from the opening of Sephora Macquarie earlier this year. (Post continues after video).

“Our minds are rigged against us,” Andrews explained to

“Regardless of time actually spent, the slowest line will always be the one you are standing in.”

This is because when we’re waiting, our idle minds will tend to notice more around us. So we’ll intensely watch the woman in the red tracksuit who is getting her stuff scanned at the other register so much faster; or glare at the evil soul at the front of the line who must be responsible for holding you up. (Post continues after gallery.)

On the other hand, if you do happen to find yourself in the fastest queue, you’ll be busy paying for your goods and stopping your toddler from running away every few seconds (in my case, anyway), so you won’t notice whether the other queues are slower.

Who cares about them, anyway? You’re getting out of there.

So, keep all of this next time you’re frustrated while waiting in line: it’s not the queue, it’s… uh, you.

Do you think this theory about queues is true? Or are you REALLY always in the slow queue?