Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cue the queue rage

So...just exactly what is a 'queue'?

Well, according to Wiki it's 'where a line of people wait' = first come, first served.

In Thai it's spelt คิว (kew) and sounds the same as the English word 'queue'. "French (out of Latin coda), from the French cue, a word originally meaning "tail", but evolving over time by the 1700s at least in French to also mean line." Askville Amazon

If you've frequented shops here, like 7-Elevens, you'll soon learn not to leave a gap more than half a (Thai) person deep, between you and the counter, or the person in front of the queue, if there is one!

Don't get me wrong, there are pusher innerers in all countries, under the different pseudonyms: queue jumpers, butters, bargers, budgers, skippers and ditchers etc. And, I've even encountered (on two occasions here) where a gentleman actually moved aside for me, before his transaction had even finished.

* Waiting in line in Hong Kong airport and an Indian guy interrupts our hamburger order to ask 'What can I buy for?'...holding out a handful of coins.

* Waiting in front of an informal queue, in Australia, for the ticket dispenser to be filled (so we could officially queue), only to have my hand nailed and grazed by some bogan diving from the back of the group to collect her number.

*Standing in Barcelona airport, discussing with some German (I think) guys about what name they had for the people who'd just jumped our queue...'forward people'. 

* Just recently, waiting at Chiang Mai airport, when Air Asia decided (in its typical wisdom) to divert 2 small queues of individual travellers into one, to make way for a massive group who were travelling together...all would have been hunky dory, had it not been for the family of 8 causing some sort of half an hour hold up at the counter.
* In reverse, (Australia) having shopkeepers literally look over the top of the heads of children in front of me, in the queue...what? Anyone under your eye level is invisible?

* And, when some European guy blocked my way at immigration, shoving his passport under the nose of the lovely ticket dispenser man...'Is your name Snap?' dispenser man asks...'No' the guy says....'Well get back in line.'

Same guy had borrowed a pen from me earlier, when first arriving (at 7 a.m. in the morning!!!!), to put our names/number down in blue and white on a paper queue. I seriously thought he was going to have some sort of convulsion if I didn't lend him the pen first. He hovered over me as I rummaged around trying to retrieve it from my bag. I stood my ground  however, and passed it to him after I'd put my John Hancock on the list.

Strike me down if the same guy wasn't leaning on the counter, trying to get in front, when my number was called. Whatever! That's why we have numbers on our tickets.

No matter what country you're in, you encounter some people who haven't been educated in queuing etiquette, to some degree! And, if you're in that country for a while, you really start to *notice*., I'm in one of my semi regular 7-Elevens, once again (I know what the go is there...there is no go! Hug the counter, or the person in front of you, or someone will slink in from the side) and I'm second in line. The staff see me and start talking and joking, in Thai, about my usual order...another story.

I'm waiting behind three students buying Slurpee type drinks and microwaved goopy food, when I spot a small lady leaning in from the left. RIGHT! That's it! There is a time when one tires of being the invisible person in the line ... and farang are big, so she can't say she hasn't seen me.

She starts to lean in even more, so, ever so inconspicuously and slowly, I slide my foot forward between her and the students. The students eventually pick up there purchases and begin to move away from the counter.

The small lady goes for the kill, to plonk her stuff on the counter before me. I say "excuse me" (in Thai) politely *smiling* and look to the 7-Eleven boy, who is holding his hand out to ME in a 'your next' gesture...which is a rarity.

VICTORY!!!!!! that pathetic?

I return to my Thai friend's restaurant and ask her what the go is with queuing here? It's OK, she's used to farang asking rude questions. Apparently she has similar problems, so I'm relieved to know it's not just me. I was starting to get a complex. How does she deal with it? Usually the same way I do. Generally ignores the situation or says something to the person next to her, loud enough for the culprit to hear.

However, when you don't have language on your side it leaves one without the option of indirect verbal castigation, with only charades, facial expressions, tactical maneuvers or brute force remaining ;)...or there's always vipāka.


Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm one of those who can hold my own too. But several months back while waiting in line in at a books store (the one with the K that I can never ever pronounce - the one with a roped off area for the line) a western guy walked right around me and put his books on the counter. I was too surprised to say anything and too worried that I'd call him out right then and there. But next time... I will... I've been peeved ever since.

Cues in some Thai toilets have rules all their own. There is no line - you stand in front of a door. I was at JJ's last year, using their toilets, watching tourists to see what their reaction to the Thais would be. And sure enough, a Thai girl skipped right around their tidy western line and stood in front of a door. The tourist's mouths dropped open but they didn't say a thing.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I'm like you. 99.9% of the time...I'm just too flabbergasted (or tired) to react, so just stand back and let what will be, will be...BUT, just sometimes I get the s***s.

The loos! I forgot about those. And, have you noticed how some of them are always occupied, for ages. I suspect they're just locked to save on cleaning costs?

tom yam said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Snap,
I'm just about keeping my head above water here in Takhli (in more sense than one) and yeah, ive had plenty of standing in line problems in most places ive been to. Enjoyed this post very much and found a lot to identify with.
take care, Tom....

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@tom yam I just saw the news, it still looks very wet (under statement) down your way and in other areas. Here's hoping the rain stops soon.

Bob said... Best Blogger Tips

This isn’t exactly the same thing as waiting in queue, but there is another cultural quirk I’ve noticed in Thailand. I don’t know about the other Western countries, but in America, when an elevator door opens, we usually wait for everyone on the elevator who wants off the elevator to exit the elevator. In Thailand, on more than one occasion, I missed getting off on my desired floor because of the mass of people getting on the elevator and not allowing me to get by them. Now when I’m on an elevator in Thailand, just before the elevator doors open, I step in front of the doors and move forward when the doors start to open.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Bob The little yellow 'stand out of the way' lines at the Bangkok BTS stations seem to work when the doors open...perhaps they need to implement these outside lift doors also.

I do notice here that the only people that hold doors open for me (apart from Stray of course) are door men. Nobody even seems to take glance back to see if there's someone behind them. Somehow it just doesn't fit, Thailand being such a polite society and all.

Philip said... Best Blogger Tips

Leaving a door to slam into someone's face is weird, isn't it?

A couple of close calls and you soon learn that the person in front ain't going to hold it open...

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Philip I reckon it's weird...but it seems very normal. And, yes, you only get caught unawares once, maybe twice ;)

Joe said... Best Blogger Tips

Also just stopping at the top / bottom of an escalator without a thought to the people on the moving stairs behind you.

Or standing in shop door ways not doing anything in particular.

The list Is endless but no country is perfect!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Joe Agreed! And a recent trip to an airport reminded me of the moving walkways...are they for lazy people who don't stand to one side, or for people in a hurry?

No country is perferct...that's for sure.