Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Yellow Line

I have seen a yellow line in the airports at the metal detector near the security check area. The queue starts from the metal detector and one must stand behind the yellow line.

I have often wondered what purpose the yellow line serves.

Recently, I visited USA on a vacation. I noticed yellow lines every where. Even in the coach we traveled, there was a yellow line in the aisle near the driver. The driver will not start if some one has crossed the yellow line.

Queues are a very important element of civilization. In operations research, queuing theory is a tool in optimization. In computer science, queues are a very important data structure. In nature, we find ants achieve seemingly impossible things by following a queue.

I have noticed the futility of jumping the queue in the airport. We need to stand several times in a queue: when getting into the airport, check in, security, boarding, getting in the bus which takes us to the plane, deplaning. No matter who is ahead of us, we all reach the destination at the same time. It seems like a small victory in being ahead in a queue but there are no benefits. Following the queue helps in completing the process faster.

I have also observed how people respect a queue in a temple. In Jagannath Temple in Puri, queues are rarely formed and the Darshan is a traumatic experience for many. In south India, the queues are more regularly followed in temples.

I have observed school children meticulously form and follow a queue in school or when they visit a zoo or a museum in a group. But, as adults we often are too impatient to follow a queue and end up being chaotic.

I do not know why we hate queues but some reasons may be a. feeling more important if you do not stand in a queue, b. a feeling that you will achieve or acquire some thing out of turn, c. the VIP culture.

I hope to see more queues and less chaos in the Institute.