Monday, June 7, 2010

A Small Rant About Queuing/Queueing, or However the Hell You Spell It

The Swiss are genetically incapable of forming a queue, or line, as we call it in the US.  And I hate a line-butter.  (Or line-cutter, some people call them line-cutters).  Don’t you?

I saw it again, just this morning, in the Porto, Portugal airport trying to get on our flight to Geneva.  The very new, very nice little airport there in Porto has one serious design flaw.  There is only ONE entrance into EIGHT security lines.  It’s like 8 lanes of Los Angeles traffic merging down into one, except in reverse.  I mean, people had time to do their makeup, write a report and practice the Kama Sutra while waiting in this line.   Being from one of the two countries that understands proper queuing etiquette, i.e. the US and the UK, (and, I must admit, the UK folks are the crowned champion queuers—they can form a line out of spit, Kleenex and Popsicle sticks), Mr. Big and I took our place at the end of the line which was outside the terminal at the edge of  the parking lot.

When we finally made it about 90% up the line and caught our first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel, I saw them.  The f***ing Swiss.  Butting.  COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS, as always, that there was, indeed, a line of people snaking for about 4 kilometers back into the hinterlands.  I saw not one, but two, separate groups of travelers, who came directly out of the ticketing line where they had just handed off their Longchamps luggage and walk directly into the head of the queue!  I’m poking Mr. Big in the arm, “Look, look for it.  The red passport with the white cross.  Look for it, Mr. Big.”

Sure enough, Swiss passports to the man, but, more importantly, no guilt!  They don’t even know that they have butted into the head of a line that stretched back to Guam!!  And, even though I don’t understand a word of Portuguese, the natives in the line were pissed, too.  I could tell by undertone, the vibe, the body language.  Even little old ladies were pissed!  “Bah, F***ing Swiss!” is pretty much universal in any language.

Why do they think they are entitled to do this?  They are from a highly regulated country that manages to teach their infants not to cry on Sundays, (which, I suspect, involves the employment of duct tape from an alarmingly early age, but I cannot prove this).  Why can they not understand the concept of a line?  Here are a few more examples that make my teeth hurt:

On The Metro or Train.  When the doors open, it is polite and UNIVERSALLY UNDERSTOOD that one stands to the side and lets the disembarking passengers off first.  Simple concept, right?  Non, non, non.  They stand DIRECTLY at the opening of the doors and try to barge their way through the oncoming traffic and then have the gall to look MIFFED and, quite possibly, might let out with a disgruntled “Ssschuut!” if they are not let onto the Metro car immediately.

Getting on an Elevator:  If you have ever seen anyone get on an elevator first, immediately turn around and plant their body right in front, right in the middle, and, subsequently, force all of the other passengers to make their way around them like water going around a boulder in a stream, then that person was Swiss, guaranteed.    I ride the Metro every day.  At my Metro stop, I have to get on an elevator to get up to street level, so I have to experience this phenomenon at least once, if not two or three times per day.  And I have been studying them.  In depth.  Because this is soooooo annoying to me.

At first, I thought it was just little, old ladies who felt somehow entitled to interrupt proper elevator behavior.  Little, old ladies can be annoying in any country.  Let’s face it, they are kinda mean and scary, as a general rule.  But, sadly, no.  It is all age groups, both sexes, all socio-economic strati.  With one exception.  The moms who are pushing strollers always go to the back of the elevator and try to get to get out of everybody’s way.  So, here is a small cheer for the Swiss moms with little tykes.  Good for you.

Me, being the smart-ass that I am, I try to set an example.  I think to myself, “Self, we are going to teach these Swiss folks BY EXAMPLE how to properly queue.”  So, using PRONOUNCED body language, I make a big, exaggerated, sweeping move to the side when the Metro stops and show the natives how rewarding it is to let other people off the train before embarking.  I SKIP to the backs of elevators when I am lucky enough to get on first with a giant smile on my face.  “Look, Swiss people!!  This is how you do it!  You go to the BACK and you plant your ASS against the SIDE!”.

It is not working.  They don’t even look at me.  Perhaps if I start carrying Longchamps luggage, they will take me more seriously.

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