You know the feeling well. You’ve been queuing up in a worryingly long line for a film or a talk for a while now, and while you’ve resigned yourself to getting a seat at the back behind a pillar, you’re still holding out hope that you’ll actually get inside. Just as you begin to near the door of the ticket booth or theatre, the queue halts. The people around you peer ahead inquisitively, and the support staff for the event mill around, darting inside and out.
Finally, ten minutes later, you get told that there’s no room left, we’re very sorry, now please would you go home. The fact that you are only one of a hundred (or more) people still left queuing doesn’t make you any happier.
This is probably a global phenomenon, but it certainly happens a lot in Cambridge. Many times I’ve asked myself why the support staff (mainly students) can’t just look in the theatre, then look outside, work out a cutoff point and then helpfully tell everyone beyond that that there won’t be enough space for them. Is it really that difficult to assess the number of empty seats relative to the number of people in the queue, when they are orders of magnitude apart, or are all the support staff completely incompetent and don’t have the guts to tell people to leave?