First of all, jQuery 1.4 added the delay function, which I assume is what your custom wait implementation is doing.

Using delay, you can sort of fake the functionality of each element “waiting” on the previous element to finish by using the first parameter to the each callback as a multiplier for an intial delay. Like this:

var duration = 5000;

$('elem').each(function(n) {
    $(this).delay(n * duration).fadeIn().delay(duration).fadeOut();

So the first element will fadeIn immediately. The second will fadeIn after 5,000 ms. The third after 10,000 ms and so on. Keep in mind that this is faking it. Each element is not actually waiting on the previous element to finish.