The Taming of the Queue

A look at the boredom, frustration, stress, fatigue and fury we all feel in line-ups, as our fast-paced lives slow to a crawl.
Filmmaker Josh Freed camped out in the middle of a lineup in front of Schwartz’s, Montreal’s iconic deli
Available on CBC Gem

The Taming of the Queue

documentary Channel

We, humans, spend much of our lives getting the blues, in queues. All over the world people are lined up now — millions, maybe billions of us losing trillions of hours of our time, our patience and our lives.

We line up at banks, borders, supermarkets, trains, planes and in endless traffic lineups too.

Many of us spend 2 to 3 years of our lives in queues of some kind, says MIT’s Richard Larson, the expert known as Dr. Queue. “Lineups cause stress, anxiety rage - and sometimes even murder.”

The Taming of the Queue travels the world to see how queuing behaviour differs in different countries. We stand in some of the world’s worst lineups in Mumbai, India, where people spend a month each year waiting in queues.

We stand in rule-abiding Canadian lineups and visit line-loving Britain, where queues are celebrated, as part of the national identity.

Filmmaker Josh Freed tries cutting into lines in different countries to see what happens when you break the rules.

Finally, we look at the technological revolution that's starting to undo the queue – replacing in-line with online. Are line-ups just part of the human condition – or can we find the secret to The Taming of the Queue?