Queues and Lines

Over the past 10 days, I've had the dubious pleasure of sitting in queues. For those of you who speak american, queues are lines. Standing in lines is a tradition that seems to be world wide.

About 10 days ago, as I prepared to leave my home country, I needed to update by state registry data. Knowing what was coming, I went reasonably early, perhaps an hour after opening, got a number and went for coffee. I knew that my wait would be at least two hours, so while drinking coffee, I had breakfast and read a book. I was lucky enough to be near a window, so I could also watch the tourists walking back and forth along the main street. I was relaxed and prepared because I knew that the line was long and that patience was the only recourse.

On entry to Dublin, I once again needed to register with the state. In Ireland, that's called a Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) card. I had the hope that Ireland was a first world country and was able to manage waiting times. The office was open from 8am to 4:30pm, so I arrived around 9:30am. Strike one. All the tickets for that day were gone and I would have to come back another day. It seems that people really want to move to Dublin from non-EU countries. EU citizens don't need to a GNIB card.

For my second attempt, I decided to be smart. I would arrive before opening time. I reached the office around 7:50. Too late. I received number 77 and was told to have a seat and wait. The queue started at number 3. It was amazing watching the staffers man the desks. At any point in time, there were between 1 and 8 desks operational. Most of the people I saw were from the Middle East and Africa, which to be fair is where I was coming from also.

After 3+ hours of sitting, my number was finally called around 12:15. 5 minutes with the staffer, 10 minutes waiting to take finger prints and another 20 minutes waiting for my new card and I was out by 1:10! Amazing. My lesson was that you should never go to a government office without a book or laptop.

My next experience was ay my new job. 50 of us started on the same day. We all had forms to fill out, equipment to receive and documents to sign. The only line was to take ID pictures and I had to wait about 3 minutes for me turn. The company was smart and scheduled multiple things to do during that time, so the queue didn't need to hold everyone at the same time. Total waiting time during the 6 hours of lectures and introductions about about 5 minutes. Well done.

Final step: I still needed to get a PPS number. That's the equivalent of a Social Security number in the United States. I asked the staffers at work about the queues. "No problem," they said. "It should take less than 30 minutes. There is almost never a queue unless all the new employees show up at the same time." The office opened at 9:30am, so I arranged to arrive around 9:15am. "I'm smart," I thought.

No such luck. The line was already around the corner outside the office.  I finally received number 74 at 10:15, with the current count at 20.  I took my leave and had a cup of coffee next door, where I wrote this post.  2 hours later, I spent my five minutes with the officer and left the office.  My last task completed until I need to do it again in 12 months.

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