Queueing should be a social activity

I had been planning to blackmail Nanny Wen into joining me at a Donut Factory queue.

She’s very easy for me to blackmail because she’s always doing naughty things that she doesn’t want the Goonfather to find out. If anyone hasn’t already figured it out, the Goonfather is Nanny Wen’s kor kor (big brother) in the “adopted” sense.

So, anyway, Wen just told me that she has a temp job starting Monday. Yech. I mean, I’m really happy for her. Having a job beats spending her entire school break watching YouTube videos and installing silly programs on the Goonfather’s computer and incurring his wrath.

But who is going to queue up for donuts with me now??

I was thinking of making it an outing. You know, queue for the sake of queueing and not entirely for the donuts. The donuts would just be a nice bonus.

I tried joining a Hello Kitty queue years ago because I thought it would be fun to do something stupid with friends. We’re only young once, you know. We started at 11pm (to queue up for the 7am opening) but the queues were already full by 11pm, can you believe that?

We literaly drove to all four corners of Singapore in search of the most remote McDonald’s outlets we could think of, but they were all full. Yes, they had barricades and signs saying “QUEUE FULL”. There were literally hundreds of people queueing at every last McDonald’s outlet in Singapore.

OMG Singaporeans. Sometimes I’m horrified to be a Singaporean. We ended our search at about 3am, after four hours of searching, disappointed. Hahaha.

Anyway, last night, I read Mooiness’s donut blog, which linked me to IZ Reloaded’s donut blog, where he had done a report on the Donut Factory queue. What a great report. It makes me want to go queue up even more.

I mean, why not? Instead of hanging out with your best pals at Starbucks, why not hang out with them in a donut queue? You could chat, catch up on each other’s lives, bond. Sure, you don’t get chairs and service. But Starbucks’ chairs suck (so hard they bruise my spine) and service is overrated. I’d really rather sit on the floor in a donut queue. BYO drinks and snacks if you must.

Isn’t that a perferctly valid way to spend an afternoon? Of course, if you’re going to be queueing alone, then that’s silly. Queueing should be a social activity. I think social queueing is a more meaningful activity than, say, couch potatoing. So people should stop giving crazy queuers (excepting crazy loner queuers) a hard time.

And now, I’ll have to go find myself another victim. Sigh.

Why donut queues are so long

I wonder what’s gotten into Singaporeans. What’s with the crazy donut worshipping?

Someone was telling me she queued for 2 hours. Another someone told me he queued for 4 hours. What the hell? Like, never eat donuts before? Donuts are so great you’re willing to queue for 4 hours to get some?

I like donuts but I’m not a donut maniac like the rest of the 1.5 million Singaporeans in the queues.

But I decided to join a queue the other day. I didn’t want to be the only clueless, donutless person left in Singapore.

I went for Vinco Doughnuts at VivoCity because the queue didn’t look as intimidating as other franchises’ queues.

And NOW, I know the real reason for the ridiculous queues: Inefficient SOP.

My queue was actually only half the size of the one in the picture (it kept growing while I was in the queue) and it still took me half an hour to get my one measly donut despite there being two and a half servers. (One of them was serving on an ad hoc basis, whenever she took time off looking at her clipboard or talking to the chefs.)

Here’s how an average transaction went.

  1. Donut girl asks customer for order.
  2. Customer says he wants two dozen donuts.
  3. Donut girl saunters to the back to fold two pieces of flat cardboard into boxes. (This takes one or two minutes for every single customer.)
  4. Donut girl ambles back to customer with boxes.
  5. Customer starts rattling off the flavours he wants.
  6. Donut girl writes order down on boxes.
  7. Donut girl brings boxes to this multi-storey tray thing stacked from floor to ceiling with donuts.
  8. Donut girl starts picking donuts very slowly, spending up to 10 seconds looking for each donut and putting it in the box.
  9. Donut girl can’t find particular donut.
  10. Donut girl asks colleague (who is busy serving another customer) and they both stop to chat for a while.
  11. Donut girl continues to slowly pick at donuts.
  12. Donut girl strolls back to customer to ask some questions.
  13. Donut girl and customer have a debate on the intricacies of donut flavouring.
  14. Donut girl saunters back to multi-tray and continues picking donuts and filling boxes slowly.
  15. Donut girl finally has 2 boxes filled, after 8 minutes from the time she first served the customer.
  16. Donut girl painstakingly packs the 2 boxes into a large plastic bag, making sure everything is neat and tidy so she can win an award for neatness.
  17. Donut girl takes some time to carefully key the purchase into cash register.
  18. Customer pays for donuts and leaves.
  19. Donut girl moseys back to main counter to serve next customer.
  20. Cycle repeats.

I estimated that each transaction took between 3 and 10 minutes, depending on how many boxes were required, how fussy a customer was, and how much time the donut girl spent chatting with her colleague.

I was the only “idiot” who bought only one donut. Everyone else in the queue before me bought 6, 12 or 24. But even my one donut took two minutes to be served up.

With SOPs like that, it’s no wonder donut queues get that long. Of course, maybe other donut franchises have better reasons for attracting a queue, so if you have other opinions on why donut queues are too long, let’s hear it.

I suspect that maybe the management trains its staff to work very slowly in order to lengthen the queues so that the donut shop can look very, very popular.

And long queues get longer because Singaporeans just can’t resist queues. The longer one is, the more people want in, never mind what the purpose of the queue is.

I didn’t even like my donut. Maybe I ordered the wrong flavour. I had Royal Cheese and it was quite disappointing because it didn’t look like the picture. The cheese tasted like cheapo supermarket singles and the dough was too airy and didn’t taste that great. The cheese didn’t even stick to the donut, so while I was eating it, half the cheese fell into the paper bag.

Dunkin Donuts is much better. I haven’t tried the other franchises available in Singapore but I will, eventually, when the queues stop looking so scary.