Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cutting in line

I know this is a over discussed topic, but still.. what is the deal with older Chinese people CONSTANTLY trying to cut in line?! In the beginning I was mostly stunned. Coming from a country where cutting in line is close to taboo (I mean, in Sweden we even give other people space in the line.. especially if you line up to to use the ATM) I was amazed of how non existent the whole 'standing in a line' system is in China. I mean, we shouldn't even talk about what it is sometimes like to try and get on/off the metro?! Bit of a wrestling game at times!

But in this case of cutting in lines, I mean the actually existing lines. Like when u go into a shop and want to pay something and there is a line, which signifies that you should line up behind the person standing last in the line... I mean, this is not rocket science -everybody should be able to get that? Right?

So, why is it then still that when I get last in line, some older Chinese man or woman often comes and stands right in front of me, or, sometimes they even pushes me back?! Since the novelty of this case is long gone, I now respond rather aggressively, either telling them to get behind me, or violently pushing myself in between them and the person in front of them. It always works, but I get looks from them that are everything but friendly. And still, THEY were the ones cutting in front of me?!

Young Chinese rarely cut lines. It has happened to me a few times but normally it is because they simply don't realise there is a line, and when u tell them they apologize and get in the line. But older people. Grrrrrrrrr... I get furious. And I guess the fact that I am personally not patient by nature, doesn't help.

One funny thing that once happened to my bf in the convenience store. He was in going towards the counter to line up and managed to bump into a another guy who was in the line on his way. The guy turned to him and said:

-What is your problem?! You hit me, don't you normally say 'sorry' in your home country?!

My boyfriend just stared at him. For real?!!!


Anonymous said...

I have two theories on why older Chinese folks cut line. One, Chinese elders are a pain in the ass. They believe they are to be respected by younger people. So they take for granted that they can cut line anytime they want. Second, maybe younger Chinese are more eager to learn new manners while older folks just don't learn.

At any rate I am going to be in China next week. I am ready to push around.

Anonymous said...

Not very long ago China was not a wealthy nation and shortages of all kinds were common. If food [or any other small luxury] appeared you did your best to make sure you and your family got a share of it. Famines are a frequent feature of Chinese history and 'good' manners are not conducive to survival in situations like that.
This state of affairs went on for many generations, it wasn't a flash in the pan, so now we see the end-result.
That's my theory.

Anonymous said...

No China blog is complete without a post about cutting in line. It is annoying, it is less common than before, but I think the background is just cultural. I'm from England and lining up is something we're obsessed with. It has been noted that an English person will form a queue at a bus stop even if they are the only one waiting.

Here it's not really the way it works. Generally it's a big disorganised mass of people but it works for them and being a polite foreigner will simply mean you get served LAST, so then you have to fight too or just lose out.

My ex Chinese gf was amazing at this. There might be fifty people waiting and she'd somehow get to the front and served in a matter of seconds. It was pure artistry!

Jonna Wibelius said...

WoAi -being from England (and being queue obsessed, just like me) it must also be painful for u to use escalators, seeing that people over here stand BOTH to the left and the right?! I lived in London in 2001 and my gosh, try standing on the wrong side during the morning rush hours and people will seriously run over you. Never did that mistake again.

But yeah, it is obviously (as everyone has been pointing out) a cultural thing. Just a hard one to get used to for queue lovers like me.

Anonymous said...

Jonna are you sure you're not English, I thought it was just us that were obsessed! Oddly I just accept that both sides of escalators are going to be occupied especially at rush hour. But don't get me started on people pushing into the lifts before I get a chance to get out or pressing the up AND down button because they think the lift will come faster!! Gosh I feel better now, thanks for listening!

Jonna Wibelius said...

woai -hehe... Well I love watching people push out from the metro, then run towards the escalators, only to then STAND in the escalators. In a hurry, or just pretending to be?!

About elavators -I have a confession to make. The other day I cought myself pushing into a lift BEFORE people had walked out of it?! (Mom would be so disappointed if she knew...). is that what they call 'adapting'??