Unless you have been holidaying in Mars, you are most likely aware of the currency ban in India. Thanks to online banking, ATMs, Cash Deposit Machines, and apps like PayTm and FreeCharge, millennials have possibly not visited the bank for years now. However, our lives have taken a turn since the 8th of November. It doesn’t matter if you approve of the ‘masterstroke’ or not, you have to deal with it anyway.
Today, after standing in a queue for almost four hours before the bank finally opened at 11 am, I spent another one waiting for my turn, once the queue started moving. Finally after some 50 minutes inside the bank, I left the place feeling accomplished, not just because i had usable money in my hands, but also at how calmly I had made my way through the various personalities in the queue.
If you’re planning to head to your bank, or are probably reading this story from the queue itself, here are the folks to watch out for!
Those That Reserve Their Spots
The idea is to come at 5 in the morning, join the queue (for a full five minutes!), tell the person in front that you will be back from home in half an hour, but actually disappear till the bank opens. Meanwhile, the spot stays “reserved” for them.
Tips on tackling them: Learn to say NO. If someone comes to claim their spot ahead of you, turn them away. If someone asks you to keep a spot for them, refuse politely and ask them to call someone to stand in their place.
The Kings of the World
Some people are absolutely fine with abandoning all discipline and moving right to the front of a 100-people long queue. They usually do this with much pride, shamelessly refusing to budge even an inch when confronted. They usually get away because the others get tired of creating a scene after a point.
Tips on tackling them: Be alert and make sure you don’t let anyone break the queue. Also, be supportive of those who are trying to fight back, because . . . well, unity is strength.
The Dudes and Damsels in Distress
These are the people who try to cut through the line by playing the sympathy card. Ever ready with excuses, that are far-fetched to say the least, you will find them hovering towards the beginning of the line, trying to find that one gullible soul who will fall for their stories. Ankit Singh, a 24-year-old from Gurgaon, shares how a woman, barely in her late 20s, was requesting the manager to let her withdraw more money for her daughter’s wedding. Another one, after being refused her ‘reserved’ spot pretended to be unwell, claiming that she fell out of the queue after fainting! He also noticed how most men, clearly on the younger side of 50s, acted as if they aged overnight, only to stand with the senior citizens and get their work done faster.
Tips on tackling them: While you must always help someone who has a genuine crisis, use your judgement, and be blunt enough to refuse such pretenders point-blank.
Those Who Ignore the Ladies Queue
In India, especially in Delhi, you will find people who become visually challenged when it comes to the ladies queue. Deepika Jayara, a 22-year-old student from Mayur Vihar, recalls how some men weren’t just ready to let the ladies enter the bank, “They stood blocking the entrance, making up to 5 or 6 lines, literally pushing the ladies queue into the wall! It was even more disturbing to note that the senior citizens queue consisted of men only. I guess they felt it was okay for women to spend the whole day at the bank because probably they had nothing else to do.”
Tips on tackling them: No amount of verbal or physical aggression will help you get rid of such people. A wiser option is to walk up to the guard and request him to bring in some order. If the guard is absconding, call up the bank helpline, and get others on the line to do so, too.
The Good Samaritans
No matter how dire the situation, there will always be some souls who will think of others first, and restore your faith in humanity. If you are fortunate enough, you will find people who are setting up help desks in front of banks, distributing forms, water bottles, and also providing chairs, absolutely free of cost.
There are people who are even ready to share the new currency they received after hours of struggle with those who have a genuine emergency. In general, the currency ban does seem to have brought out the best in some of us.
The Surprisingly Friendly Bankers
We always crib about how unhelpful, and often rude, the staff at most banks is. Demonetization however seems to have rekindled their relationship with the public, perhaps because it left them as flabbergasted as the layman. Bankers have been working for over 15 hours a day, doing whatever it takes to make things easy for the common man.
“Never would have I expected the bank manager at Indian Overseas Bank to allow me into his office and personally assist me in getting my work done”, exclaims Deepika. While some banks arranged chairs for their customers waiting in queue, others provided snacks and water.
Be nice. Remember, they have to deal with ALL those annoying people in the queue every day. Don’t forget to thank those assisting you. Who knows, it might encourage them to work like this all year round!
What are some of the most bizarre / hilarious / heartwarming experiences you’ve had while waiting in the queue? Let us know in the comments!