Sick of queuing? Hire someone to do it for you

July 22nd, 2010 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kiev, July 22 (DPA) Queuing is part of everyday life in Ukraine. There are often hundreds of people standing in lines at government offices in the former Soviet republic.
But a young businessman is now making money off the undesirable task of waiting in line by supplying the market with professional queuers.

Nearly every morning, Igor stands in line on the sidewalk in front of the Hungarian embassy in Kiev.

The temperature has already reached 30 degrees and it’s not even noon. The sun is shining and it’s humid.

But Igor, who does not want to give his last name, continues waiting stoically for his turn. It is after all his job. The 34-year-old is a professional queuer.

Standing in line in Ukraine, especially at government offices, universities and hospitals, is common even 20 years after the fall of the communist regime.

This has created a business opportunity as far as Andrei Matishewitz, 25, is concerned. He’s been providing queuers for about two months.

The idea came to Matishewitz after he had to spend half a day waiting in line himself multiple times in the hallways of various government authorities.

In the Ukraine bureaucrats do not post their office hours. The bureaucratic jungle is thus a nightmare even for the most hardened Ukrainian.

“When you want to register your car in Ukraine, you need 15 different papers, all stamped by different offices,” said Matischewitz.

The idea of offering a queuing service was simple. For an hourly rate of 39 hryvnia (4 euros or 5 dollars), a queuer will take over the job of waiting in line.

Shortly before the professional queuer gets his turn, he calls the person he is representing so that he or she can come to the office and take care of his or her business.

Igor, a casual labourer, has been standing in front of the Hungarian and the Polish embassies nearly every day for the past several weeks. The people he represents in the line want to file an application for a visa or work papers.

“If it doesn’t rain, I don’t mind doing the waiting,” says the wiry man, who lost his job in a bistro nearly two years ago. “I have my mobile phone with me and spend the time playing games.”

The money he earns is not bad by Ukrainian standards. The country, badly hit by the world economic crisis, is nearly bankrupt and millions of people have lost their jobs in recent years. There are no unemployment benefits and other social assistance is unknown in the country.

Another 10 queuers work for Matishewitz’s company, the name of which means “immediate service” in English. Standing in the heat on sidewalks in front of government buildings or in dark overheated office lobbies is not everyone’s idea of a good job.

“I currently only employ men who appear to be more patient and tougher,” said Matishewitz.

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