True Stories

True stories: "We get paid to play pretend"

A burlesque dancer, a stand-in bridesmaid, and a queue-sitter tell us about their double lives

She helps people bag what they really, really want 

Photo: 123rf

For 18 hours, Trisha* stood in line to be among the first to get her hands on the coveted new iPhone X. To pass the time, she read books on her Kindle and napped in her sleeping bag. But the iPhone was not for herself. Trisha, 29, is a queue-sitter - someone who gets paid to stand in line and bag super-exclusive, coveted stuff. 

She typically gets $21 for a three-hour shift, and between $90 and $110 for a 12-hour one. Over the past few months, she's stood in line to help people get Bruno Mars concert tickets and fashion items (most recently, she queued eight hours for the Erdem x H&M collaboration, and 12 hours for a pair of Adidas x Mastermind sneakers). But queuing for the iPhone X has been her longest and most lucrative gig so far - netting her $175 for that single occasion. 

It started last August when Trisha chanced upon a Carousell ad from someone seeking a queue-sitter who could help buy limited-edition Supreme x Louis Vuitton pieces. It opened her eyes to the demand for this service. On the lookout for more such jobs, she found iQueue, a platform which links customers with people who can stand in line on their behalf. On the website, customers choose "queue and buy" (where the queue-sitter completes the entire process and hands over the goods) or "queue and replace" (where the queue-sitter informs the customer of her position in the line once she joins the queue), which lets the customer estimate what time to show up and take over. The rates queue-sitters charge are determined by iQueue. 

For Trisha - who juggles part-time jobs like working as a banquet server and assisting in events company with its set-ups - queue-sitting is just a way to earn extra cash to pay her bills. She admits it isn't much (she declined to reveal how much she earns each month from her queue-sitting gigs), but every bit helps. After all, she's got bigger dreams. Currently, she's saving up and thinking of going back to school to resit her O Levels before going on to do a diploma in agricultural science. Eventually, she'd like to start her own agriculture business.


Photo: 123rf 

Still, waiting in line is mundane work, so you need to be a master at exercising patience and finding ways to kill time. Trisha makes sure she's got her arsenal, which includes snacks like cookies and crisps (it's a good thing she's not a big eater), water, a power bank that's good for multiple charges, an umbrella, and enough data to watch videos on her phone. She must also be able to react quickly to situations - sometimes, she gets just a few minutes' notice to get in line. And she must be prepared to deal with store policies working against her. For example, some shoe stores allow people in the queue to buy only products in their own size. Trisha reads forum posts from other queue-sitters on how to handle such situations so she won't be caught off-guard. 

Making friends and building camaraderie with others in the queue is also crucial, says Trisha, who may initiate the chats by sharing her snacks and drinks. This is especially important if you've got a customer who's coming to take your place later, and you don't want others in the queue to raise a ruckus about it. Plus, you don't want to come back from a restroom break to find that someone else has moved in on your spot. "People are usually quite friendly, and they'll help you as long as it doesn't put them out of their way," she notes.

Besides the cash, Trisha says it's nice to be able to help someone out. She recalls a woman who tried queueing for concert tickets and didn't succeed, but got them after hiring Trisha to do the job. She was overjoyed. "You can share in their happiness, even if it's just for a short while," says Trisha. "Besides, our Singapore kiasu spirit already makes us world-class queuers." 

*Names have been changed. 

This story was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Her World magazine.