Features Published 23 June 2015

You Me Bum Bum Queue

Daniel B. Yates spent 27 hours queuing for You Me Bum Bum Train tickets online. These are his consumer insights.
Daniel B. Yates

Saturday 1700hrs: On their site, setting an alarm on my phone for the countdown to sale, I notice the You Me Bum Bum Train logo is an aubergine. In Japan it is considered good luck to dream of Mt Fuji, a hawk and an aubergine. The archaic English compound word for aubergine is “mad-apple”. These must be signs, but of what? I aim to discover just what tomorrow.

Sunday 1830hrs: Tickets go on sale. Lots of swift-clicking, everything freezes, and time becomes one long hollow tube where desire is pushed toward infinity like a fierce cold front in a vacuum. This is what it must be like at Felix Barratt’s stag-do, or being Elon Musk’s toaster. This is followed by my wondering what a browser is, how it queues, and whether it has the equivalent of sharp elbows.

1842hrs: Stupid soft browser elbows; I’m on the site, but 11,342nd in the queue!  By my calculation there ought to be at least 25 tickets available so I live in hope.

1851hrs: My browser is evidently not English, or it’s waiting for its partner who forgot some arcane constituent part of a BBQ and is letting others jump ahead — I’ve gone backwards to 11,431st in the queue.

1853hrs:  11,231st

1855hrs:  10,903rd

1857hrs:  10,902nd

1900hrs:  10,894th!

1901hrs:  10,891st

1904hrs:  10,885th

1906hrs:  10,882nd

1909hrs:  10,785th!!

1910hrs:  10,783rd

1913hrs:  10,781st

1915hrs:  10,781st

1916hrs:  10,783rd

1923hrs: I wonder what a piece of theatre comprised solely of price signals would be, and whether I’m about to find out.

1928hrs:  Predictably, Facebook is angry. No one is communicating to the consumers. Someone says they have destroyed the integrity of the theatre industry. Someone else is pimping their indie game. Social unrest is imminent.

1930hrs: 10,751st

1932hrs: 10,750th

1941hrs: We have set ourselves the task of improvising a dance for each number arrived at. 10, 691st is mostly elbows and looks like a chicken attempting escape from a battery farm. 10,682nd is small shuffling steps and a crooked raised arm in the manner of a ticket, like a train conductor in an authoritarian regime/those TFL guys in dark clothes.

1952hrs: 10,750th

1957hrs: Marketing specialists analyse and optimise the best way to say “thank you”. According to one, the sentiment “thank you” is an “integral part of an optimised conversion system that, when used properly, can continue to boost your revenue.” I don’t know what the ‘Bum Bum Train’ version of this is going to be, perhaps they come round your house personally and, smiling without speaking, break your website.

2001hrs: 10,749th

2003hrs: 10,748th

2007hrs: We may laugh at the high dudgeon of Facebook users’, making public demands in the name of consumer sovereignty. But they are right, that this is where they may be heard. Here, where we disclose how we feel, our innermost sentiments are treated as hard data in our relationship with economics and governance. Elsewhere, when we consider, and write, and attempt to speak, our utterances go officially unrecorded. In a neo-liberal democracy, the moments we form public speech are the moments we are heard least by the powerful. This has its upsides.

2008hrs: A mate who works in a Hoxton fab lab, knowing my passion for neuromarketing, recently lent me an fMRI scanner and an EEG. If mood and affect can be rendered visible, and the conditions understood, we can predict and control others’ behaviours. I plug in and my pre-frontal cortex is a teal and amber glow, an aurora borealis of thin psychologised desire, I am in the midst of a consumer breakdown.

2009hrs: 10,748th

Credit: Daniel B. Yates

2011hrs: Error recalculating

2025hrs: This has been an awful brand experience – chaotic, non-communicative, frustrating. The new social capitalism is all about helping us forget that capitalism is occuring, hell, even that we’re in a market with choice. When payment is a ‘pain-point’, buying is no longer buying, it’s an experience. And the conclusion has to be, that for their general neglect of the fulfillment of our consumer subjectivities, their shoddy take-it-or-leave-it attitude to this ENTIRE PROCESS, You Me Bum Bum Train probably deserve some credit.

2022hrs: Sold out.

Credit: Daniel B. Yates

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Daniel B. Yates

Educated by the state, at LSE and Goldsmiths, Daniel co-founded Exeunt in late 2010. The Guardian has characterised his work as “breaking with critical tradition” while his writing on live culture &c has appeared in TimeOut London, i-D Magazine, Vice Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives and works in London E8, and is pleasant.

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