SINGAPORE: Sweaty armpits. Wobbly knees. Chewed fingernails. Harrowing wails.
For most Singaporeans, the trauma of waiting in a PSLE results queue ought to have been enough to put generations off waiting in line.
But no. Hell no. We’re made of sterner stuff. Proper alloy metal kind of stuff.
Instead, we have turned that memory on its head to make queuing into a daft art.
Sure, while we much prefer an every-man-woman-and-child-for-themselves melee when boarding buses, when it comes to anything snazzy, sugary, kawaii or free we will fall in shipshape to line up for hours on end.
2017 has seen its fair share of A-list, queue-worthy extravaganzas – chief among them, the debut of iPhone X.
Oh my word.
As the heaving mass of humanity in the video below shows, there was more chill on the rooftop of the US Embassy in Saigon when the city fell on Apr 30, 1975 than along Orchard Road last month.
Anyway, here are five other silly things we’ve queued up for in recent times:
GAGA OVER GONG CHA
Chewy balls of starch. Four words that have no business appearing consecutively in any language. But hey, there it is. In all its glory.
Flavoured milk tea has been around for as long as humans, cows and tea leaves lived in close proximity. So basically, 2,000-plus years.
Nothing new there.
But sucking up pearls of tapioca through girthy straws is a novelty that has yet to wear off nearly 20 years after the first bubble tea beverage burst onto the scene.
Fans of Gong Cha queued overnight in celebration of its return to sun-dappled Singapore following a short-lived departure.
Some were even told they’d have to wait up to 14 hours to get their fix. To which they replied, while whipping out an air pillow: “Yup, that’s fine. Anything else?”
Fourteen hours, maybe 15, for a cuppa! Did I miss a memo? It’s all very Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
TARTS AND DONUTS
OK, it may sound like a kinky S&M skin flick. But it is far worse. In the midst of this war against diabetes, it’s unconscionable to be openly enthusiastic about confectionery.
And nothing spells gung-ho better than lining up (laying down, even) in your jammies for a box of Krispy Kreme. When the donut chain opened in 2013 at Tangs Orchard Basement, people began queuing a full day before the store opened.
The rewards, when they arrived, were sweet alright. The first person in line took home a one-year supply of the Original Glazed Doughnuts — a dozen donuts every week for an entire year. (And two vials of insulin.)
We are also positively gaga over Japanese tarts. There were snaking columns of wide-eyed fans when chain outlets Pablo and Hokkaido's Bake Cheese Tarts opened here.
And it was worth it for them, as the only egg left on their faces came in a literal form as they all gave the die die must try! seal of approval.
IN A TIZZY OVER TIM HO WAN
This was the one that stumped us all. Mong Kok’s 20-seater Tim Ho Wan already had a cachet long before some fat bloke turned up and tossed a star in its direction.
When it turned up in Singapore in 2013 with its freshly minted Michelin glow, people here somehow lost the plot. It was a feeding frenzy like no other, as it sold 3,000 char siew buns on its first day.
Wait, what? Would Eskimos queue around the block for ice slushies?
Let’s be clear: Tim Ho Wan is pretty damn good. But it’s rather silly to drop everything and try it when we have had fine dim sum places like Hua Ting, East Ocean, Swee Choon and Red Star Restaurant, among a slew of others, for years.
Oh ya, we’re kiasu. I forgot.
BONKERS OVER BALMAIN X H&M
As if the pandemonium of its grand opening on Grange Road in 2011 wasn’t wild enough, H&M’s seemingly fashion forward zealots plumbed the silly season to new depths when they turned up for the Balmain x H&M collection’s launch in 2015.
Channel NewsAsia covered the event back then, and here’s a sample of what shoppers said, post-sale: "I was so tired just now, but now I'm very alert - and very confused.”
“People inside are crazy.”
“It was intense, everybody was crazy.”
“I just want to go home and eat something.”
Oh, colour me surprised.
HELLO KITTY HELL
For those who remember, it was known as the Hello Kitty Riot. It remains to this day the barmiest episode of queue-fever in this country.
In January 2000, tens of thousands jostled to get their hands on Hello Kitty toys as part of a McDonald’s toy promotion. The inauspicious start to the new year began on Jan 1 itself, when a doctor and a lorry driver came to blows over the dolls.
I’ll give you a couple of seconds to reread that sentence.
Done? OK, let’s continue our walk down this unedifying chapter in history.
A few days later, seven people were injured after a crowd queuing outside a McDonald’s outlet in Boon Keng got overly frantic and shattered a glass door. Three people were taken to hospital.
Throughout the promotion, SCDF was inundated with phone calls from the public about people fainting and fighting in queues.
Buses from the police’s crack Special Operations Command were deployed to several McDonald’s outlets. Riot police vehicles. Outside fast food joints. Probably a world first.