Yesterday, I went to Toronto for an appointment for an errand I had to run. Basically it was one of those things where you go in, take a seat, wait until your name/number gets called, and then go talk to one of the representatives to process a document.
My appointment was for 2pm, and they told me that I should get there 15 minutes in advance. I took a greyhound bus from Waterloo to Toronto, and I ended up getting there at 1pm. I went in thinking that they might let me in anyways, but I was told it was too early and to come back later. I went to a nearby Starbucks, did some work, and came back at 1:50pm. I expected to get a number or something, but I was told just to sit down and wait.
It was a relatively small room, and there were about ten of us waiting. There were three representatives who were processing our documents. One of them finished with his current client, and thus was available to help a new person. To find this new person, he simply shouted “Anyone for 1:40pm? … No? How about 1:50pm?”. At this point, two gentlemen, A and B, raised their hand. The representative asked which one came sooner, and gentleman A claimed that he came sooner, so he got to go up first.
I was able to get my document processed right after gentleman B, which made me pleasantly surprised as I did not wait longer than 15 minutes. However, there were people who had been waiting longer than me whom I preceded because their appointment was for 2:10 or 2:20.
When my document finished processing, it was 2:15pm. Right as I got up from my seat to leave, a woman came up to the representative and claimed that her appointment was for 1:40pm. The representative promptly agreed to process hers right away, even though others whose appointments were for 2:10pm had been waiting for 30 minutes.
Although I inadvertently took advantage of it, I cringed at the inefficiencies and unfairness that this system offered. The woman who was 40 minutes late for her appointment was able to be helped right away, while the person who was 20 minutes early had to wait over 30 minutes.
The moral of the story is that if you know that you need to run an errand at a place that uses this sort of system, then it advantageous to purposely be late. (Although, you should not be late to the extent that the officer at the front does not let you in the room because you are an hour late to your appointment.)