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Not Putting On A Very Good Show Of Waiting

, , , , | Right | June 22, 2020

I work on the photo team at a popular aquarium that recently opened. Not only are we new, but it’s the middle of the summer holidays and our queue time to get in for the day has already reached around two and a half hours, so a lot of people are getting restless.

I am currently working the green screen at the beginning of the attraction, getting people to sit down on a bench and have their photo taken which they can view and/or buy in the gift shop if they wish. Once customers have paid to get into the centre, they then join a secondary small queue that leads into a showroom; we can only fit thirty-five people in at a time. It’s our way of enforcing some crowd control so hundreds of people aren’t all going in at once.

Inside, guests are given a small four-minute show. There is a TV above the door leading in that counts down how many minutes are left before the next show starts.

I speak to the next family in line.

Me: “Hi there, guys. Ever so sorry for the wait.”

Mother: “Oh, it’s no problem.”

Me: “If you’d all like to take a seat on the green bench for me, guys.”

I’m putting the barrier down again after they walk through, separating me from the next customer so I can take the family’s photo. The next customer is a moody-looking woman in her fifties with a small boy stood beside her. She interrupts me.

Moody Woman: *Annoyed tone* “Excuse me. We don’t want our photo taken; we just want to go through!”

Me: *To the family* “Sorry, guys, hold on a sec.” *To the woman* “That’s fine; you don’t have to have one taken but I am just going to take these guys’ photo first, and then you can go through to the next show in a couple of minutes. I have to let you all go in the order you came through; otherwise, I’ll be accused of letting customers queue jump.”

I start to turn away to take the family’s photo and she interrupts me again.

Moody Woman: “Why can’t I go through up there now? I don’t want my photo; I just want to get into the aquarium!

Her tone is getting louder and angrier.

Me: “I can’t let you go up there to the show because that room is full now; your little boy won’t be able to see anything. The queue was up to here before and that means there’s no more room. It’s only four minutes a show, so you’ll be in the next one after I take these guys’ photo. I’ll let you join them up there afterward.”

Moody Woman: “No! I’m sick of this! We’ve been waiting in the queue for two hours now and I’m not going to wait another half an hour for some stupid show. I don’t want a photo and I don’t want to go in there!”

Me: “Please, as I said before, it’s only four minutes. I understand you’ve been waiting a long time; so has everyone else, and I can get you all moving a lot quicker if you let me take this family’s photo. It’s only a couple of minutes now.”

I point to the TV above the door which does indeed say that there are two minutes remaining.

Me: “After the show, you will be in the aquarium and you can go as fast or as slow as you like; there are no more queues.”

Moody Woman: “I don’t want to f****** wait! This is ridiculous! I’ve not paid a fortune just to stand in lines!”

My colleague comes down and takes down the barrier.

Colleague: “It’s fine, ma’am. If you don’t want to see the show, I’ll take you through the school room and get you straight into the aquarium.”

My colleague takes her through, the woman still mumbling profanities with her little boy looking terrified. Although the conflict is resolved, I don’t want to take the woman through the shortcut because she is being an irrational, stubborn b****, so I want her to wait her turn just like everybody else has been. Also, I don’t want everyone else who is lining up behind her to get the same idea and go “all hell’s broken loose” on me. 

I turn back to the family, looking rather awkward on the bench, but for the sake of not ruining their day, I resume doing my job exactly how I would have done before, putting a smile on my face and waving my hands in the air like nothing had happened.

Me: “I’m really sorry, guys. Now, I need you all to wave your arms in the air, give me nice big cheesy smiles, and look up at the camera in the box above my head. On three: one, two, three!”

Flash! I scanned their photo card and sent them up to the door. My colleague had come back and, whilst I was interacting with the next customer, I overheard someone in the family muttering to my colleague about me. All I heard were the words, “Poor girl.” I just smiled, glad they weren’t annoyed with me because of what happened.