home
table of contents
essays
religion
February 2003
email

On the Teleological Content of Queueing Theory

Recently there has been a good deal of effort spend on the dynamics of queueing. For example, there is the jeep problem, the travelling salesman problem, the motel problem, the single queue problem, the multi-queue problem, and the curly queue problem. Most of this discussion has been in the true scientific spirit, i.e., dryly technical. In this paper we will consider the problem from a more philosophic viewpoint and study, not how queues are formed, but why they are formed.

It is commonplace that one stands in line. In fact many people will stand in a line simply because it is there. (Kryghtz shows that there is a small but finite probability that all of the people in the world will fall into one queue simply because it is there.) In fact, waiting in line is the single most universal experience of man. Even birth and death are not as universal, for it is a simple observation thata not all people have been born yet, nor that all people have died yet. It is true that some the simpler physiological activities are common to everyone. One notes, however, that these too can become occasions for waiting in line. Even breathing can be an occasion for waiting in line since the advent of the oxygen tent.

The evidence is simply underwhelming - everyone at some time stands in line for something. Faced with such a remarkable fact one can only ask why it should be so.

The conclusion is easy and obvious. People do not want to stand in line. At best they endure them with the patience of Job - which is, you will note, a theological concept. Since queues are not created and do not exist at the behest of Man, it follows that they serve some higher purpose not clear to the mortal mind of Man. Indeed they are no other than part of the great and glorious plan of God for Man. In fact they are they chief purpose of God's creation of Man.

Consider: We know that Man was created neither to be happy, nor just, nor to love God, nor to be pure, nor to love peace, nor to have wisdom, for it is plain that Man is not and does none of these things. Yet we know that God has a purpose for Man, and we know that, being God, He has achieved his purpose. So we look and we see that the chief purpose and achievement of Man is to stand in line.

Progress is good; it creates more lines to stand in. Population growth is good; it means more people to stand in line. Public transportation is God-ordained; it means more people standing in line. Bureaucracy, we see, is part of God's plan for Man. Cursed be the hermit, for he does not partake in God's will. Thus we see how the Hand of God is expressed in the daily lives of men.

Those who wish to honor God would be well advised to form the Church of the Everwaiting Line.


This page was last updated December 1, 2005.
Reprinted from Twilight Zine #18, May 1966
Copyright © 1966, 2003 by Richard Harter

home
table of contents
essays
religion
February 2003
email