Thursday 3rd August 1989   At home 19:22

“I don’t understand these waiting lists, Dad.”
“It’s very straightforward, Dennis. It’s just a queue, really.”
“Yes, but you’ve been telling everybody that there is a 24 week waiting list for an orthopaedic appointment.”
“Yes?”
“Well, why is it always 24 weeks?”
“It just is, Dennis. That’s how long it takes to get an appointment in the clinic.” It seemed perfectly obvious to my Dad.
“I don’t see why it should always be 24 weeks. Let’s say the clinic could see 20 patients every week . . .”
“Yes?”
“So, if there were 20 new referrals a week on average or less, there wouldn’t be a waiting list.”
“Yes.”
“But if there were 21 new referrals or more every week, the waiting list would just get longer and longer.”
My Dad looked puzzled as he thought about this.

“It’s just like the fish and chip shop in Criccieth, Dennis.” Declan piped up. He was about to bite into one of Mum’s large, fluffy Yorkshire puddings.
“Fish and chips! Don’t be stupid, Declan!”
“Actually, Dennis, he’s got a point. There is always a queue when we go for fish and chips and it always goes from the door, along the back wall and round, in front of the counter. I would guess that there are usually between 10 and 12 people in the queue. I suppose that that is the waiting list for fish and chips.”
“Yes, but that’s what I can’t understand. Why are there always 10 or 12 people waiting? Why does the queue always go round to the door?”

Declan glared at me as if I was stupid. “It’s because the fish and chips are so good, Dennis.”

 

Waiting list theory.
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