Sydney. Oh, Sydney. What to do with you. Of the many, many things you do to parody yourself, of all the food served on boards, cross-backed snap-button khaki aprons, $12 vodka, lime and sodas and different flavoured cronuts, there is but one jewel in the crown of your ridiculousness, and that is, the queue.
Sydney LOVES a queue. Whether it’s for The Grounds on a Saturday morning (I hear this place has animals – the kids will love that! Wrong – the last thing anybody needs while they get stuck into a bacon sandwich is to have a cute piglet nuzzle their fucking ankles), Black Star Pastry for a strawberry watermelon cake (because Asian Crack), Brewtown Newtown on a Sunday (okay Brewtown is an excellent brekky, but I wouldn’t queue for a Frank Zappa themed club night with playboy bunnies handing out free 90s pingas, let alone scrambled eggs and cold drip) or any other goddamn example of everybody in this city so desperate to get one good Instagram photo to make their followers lime green jelly (that means jealous, for those of you playing at home.)
When In-N-Out announce a pop-up in Sydney, the crowd goes wild. So wild that they queue outside the given venue for 6 hours before the doors even open, in the vain hope that they might score a golden ticket to a standard issue all-american freedom-loving coronary sandwich. The In-N-Out burger is a combination of a soft bun, beef, lettuce, cheese and sauce. That’s right. IT’S JUST A FUCKING HAMBURGER.
But you don’t care about that do you, 26-year-old -who-works-in-design-dressed-in-beige-chinos-and-a-maroon-pocket-tee-with-thick-framed-glasses. You couldn’t care less about that juicy meat, the freshness of the lettuce, the way the bun just falls apart at love’s first kiss. No no. Because if there’s no Instagram pic, no way of sharing this exclusive experience with five thousand of your nearest and dearest, there’s no point in that queue in the first place.
If you can’t let your other Sydneysiders know somehow that you got exclusive access to something that they didn’t, then why queue for it at all? And it is true that social media has made this a parody of itself. If you took the food photos away from Instagram you’d be left with a few thousand babies, a couple million cat gifs and lots and lots of gym selfies.
But that would be it. Because it’s the food photo #nofilter that really gets the self-adoring brownie points. It’s that magical snap of the Instagram lens over a take-away chain’s most basic offering that fills the heart of a Sydneysider with joy. It’s the sheer relief that you won, you beat them to it, this is your burger-moment-of-fame. Once it’s uploaded, it doesn’t matter what hashtag or filter you’ve chosen, nobody can take it away from you. You are one of the lucky 300. This is Sparta and you are in, not out.