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I am getting on in age, and am interested in locating SF stories that have stuck with me for more than five decades. They may be from the Golden Age of SF. Here is a summary of one:

A man is standing in a line (could be called a queue) that is so long, you can't see the end. But eventually he reaches the front, only to be told by the person at the window that he's in the wrong line. I think yellow, green, blue papers were being held by those in line.

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    For the first story see: Story about people who stand in a line for years. Jul 26, 2022 at 6:08
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    Just curious, does he know why he's in line? Or is it a Kafkaesque story and he's in line waiting because ...he's in line waiting?
    – BruceWayne
    Jul 26, 2022 at 15:39
  • This vaguely reminds me of a Hitchhikers Guide story, but I can't remember enough of it to write an answer. Or if it's even a good match to be an answer. Jul 26, 2022 at 22:36
  • The coloured tickets part reminds me a bit of Snowball. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Dreams#Snowball
    – richardb
    Jul 27, 2022 at 0:11
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    Highly nebulous suggestion: the different colored papers may be a conflation with that scene from The Weapon Shops by van Vogt where they hand the protagonist several different colored papers from stacks, while advising him how to solve his problem. He did have to stand in a conventionally longish line before getting in the building.
    – nebogipfel
    Jul 27, 2022 at 2:57

2 Answers 2

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One of the answers to Story about people who stand in a line for years mentions the story Jumping the Line by Grania Davis. This matches your description in some ways but not in others.

The story is about a boy called Bi waiting in a huge queue with his family. Due to a family squabble he leaves and queues by himself, but when the gets to the head of the queue he is told:

“Welcome!” smiled the man, “just let me have your token, and you can go right in.”
“My what?”
“Your token for admission.”
“I don’t have none. Nobody ever told be about it.”
“Where’s your Ma?”
“Down the line. I’m solo now.”
“Didn’t your Ma give you your ration card when you went solo?”
“Yeah, sort of.”
“And didn’t she give you the token? Your Ma is supposed to keep everybody’s token in her pouch.”
“Gap, no, she must’ve forgot!”
“Ho, ho, that sure is a pity. You came all the way up the line and don’t have no token to get in. I can’t let no one in without a token. You’ll have to get one.”
“Where?”
“In the Other Line. You ever see that other line, way off thataway? That’s the line where folks get their tokens. You gotta go to the end of the Other Line and wait your turn. They’ll let you use your same ration card there, and that line moves pretty fast. Then you can get back in this line and wait your turn to get in.”
“But that’ll take a real long time, and it’s dangerous!”
“Yeah, lucky you’re so young.”

However the story does not mention yellow, green and blue papers. The only documentation people in the queue have is their ration card.

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  • Thank you all for your comments and information. I think I'll need to read the suggestions before knowing for sure which story I'm remembering.
    – Athena
    Jul 31, 2022 at 7:08
  • archive.org/details/…
    – Charles
    Sep 26, 2022 at 16:44
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After a bit more research, I am 99% sure the story I remember is "Jumping the Line" by Grania Davis, and that I conflated the token with the colored papers of the other story named, "The Weapon Shop" by A.E. van Vogt. I wish I knew which collection I read both in, but that will require more research. Thanks, all, for helping!!

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    Since you're basically saying that the existing answer is correct, you should mark it as correct by clicking on the checkmark in the upper-left under the voting arrows. This would also be better posted as a comment on that answer or your question than as an answer of its own.
    – DavidW
    Aug 2, 2022 at 22:21

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