Whilst Danes do enjoy a good queue as much as the British, there is a very civilised way of approaching the stress of queueing in places like bakeries, chemists, banks, official offices and post offices (amongst others) and a method that is often missed by people new to Copenhagen. The ubiquitous ticket machines. Sometimes they can be discreetly tucked away but without a ticket you will never reach the front of the queue. Sometimes a kindly person will see someone standing ticketless and point them in the right direction. I recall a group of twenty something Englishmen in the Lagekagehuset at the main station starting to get rather desperate as they never seemed to be at the front of the queue to order one of the delicious pastries in front of them. I pointed to the ticket machine and waved my ticket and there was great relief on their faces – I wonder how long they would have waited before giving up.
It does mean that if your Danish number skills are not a hundred percent that you need to keep your eyes glued to the number screen as they will shout out the number once or twice and then move onto the next one. In some shops there will be a second number that indicates how many people are ahead of you in the queue, which is helpful if you want to browse and take your eye off the number ball.
If its busy make sure you shout out when your number is called as you make your way to the counter, especially in a busy bakery, otherwise you may miss your chance. I make it sound more cutthroat than it is but it can be frustrating to have to explain you have missed your number and have them huff about the system being messed up.
The Kommune and International House, for example, will have a variety of buttons to push to get into the right number queue so take time to look at them before you make your selection as you don’t want to end up in the wrong number queue and wait longer than you need to.
Be warned if you miss your number in a busy post office because you wandered off to do some shopping and you swan back six numbers later and expect to be served, you will be on the receiving end of some venomous looks, loud rumblings noises and potentially an old angry lady shouting at you in barely understandable Danish – so just stick it out like the rest of us. (This scenario happens regularly in the glacier slow post office in Føtex on Lyngbyvej and I can barely stop myself from inflicting grievous bodily harm to the person who does this after I have stood there sweating for half an hour and my number is next!)