Monday, January 25, 2010

Queuing anxiety

Queues make me very anxious.

Of course I'm English so I spend a lot of my time worrying about them; it's important that we get the protocol right.

We found it very difficult and occasionally, hugely amusing, in France (while I wasn't skiing) that the French have... uhm, such relaxed attitudes to queuing. Relaxed might be the wrong word; they have positively feisty attitudes. There might be quite normal looking groups of people in queue-like formulations until, say, the chair lifts opened and then they would lose all good manners and surge forward, digging sharp, French elbows into anyone who dared to get in their way. I was bruised, emotionally and physically.

In Thailand I get equally nervous. When I came here I read that in Thai toilets people don't queue in one line for the loos - plural. They queue in front of the individual stall they wish to use. Jeez, as though squatting isn't stressful enough! On top of the squatting issues, then, faced with multiple queues... you know what happens, don’t you? I always choose the wrong line… the one that moves most slowly.

To make life more complicated, I've discovered that the more Western a loo, as well as having a higher chance of having non-squats (hurrah), there are also good odds that the Thais will form one queue and not multiple queues at all. So the rules get broken. How am I to know what method of queuing to adopt?

This ‘queuing anxiety’ came about because I had to go and collect Daughter from school tonight. There was a huge long line for the taxis, and a couple of itty bitty Thai girls trying to jump the queue. The woman in front of me managed to get the taxi… but as my turn came, these flighty little girls start waving for the cab to stop in front of them instead of me. So I’m all of a flutter, wondering if I’m a cab driver, would I stop the Thai girls or the hefty farang that probably can’t tell him where to go? The driver, bless him, passed them and stopped next to me. He was rewarded with my very fluent Thai directions… They, the diminutive girls, looked very surprised, until in the international sign language of pointing, I indicated the queue to them.


Queenie said...

Hahahaha well DONE!!! I had trouble with queuing in the dining room of a hotel in Egypt, the clientele were multi-national but everything worked English-style until we had a big influx of Russians mid-week, they didn't queue at ALL, just barged straight to the front and seemed to have no concept whatever of queuing or turn-taking. Which was very strange to the rest of us - although it did teach me that a raised eyebrow and an eye-roll means incredulous irritation in a lot of different languages!

Anonymous said...

Good on you! I hate queing, drives me nuts, esp at the supermarket checkout when I always get in the slowest queue. Usually one of those where the customer can't find her purse, or can't remember her PIN. Or they have bought 6 DVD's. ARRGGHH. I do my grocery shopping online these days!!

CJ xx

Denise said...

They stress me out too, though mainly the shop variety. I grew up in a household where holding people up was a terrible crime, so not only was the queue stressful but packing your bag and putting your money away had to be done at top speed! I still get panicked if I fumble to find my money - ridiculous!

ChrisH said...

You are the might Rah! Well done! Although all that queueing etiquette is make me feel very stressed - what do New Yorkers do??

Debs said...

Yay, good for you. I hate queuing and have just spent an age next to someone who really could have done with a bath. In fact she seemed to be in every aisle that I walked down.

Carol said...

I don't mind queuing (well, unless I'm in a rush)...I usually end up having conversations with people or people watching!!

C x