Culture Shocks #1: The Queue Starts Here
Ask any Indonesian to make a line and he will stare at you as if you ask him to take off his clothes!
We have been taught (usually by bad experience), that queueing is futile and actually won’t get you anywhere. Any opportunity to jump the queue must be taken whenever possible, and nobody will complain or even get upset, because everybody is doing it!
Ok, maybe I am too exaggerating , and I’m sure (hoping) that we are getting better at this, as we get ‘older’.
As for the Brits, one can see how they view queueing by just watching the following episode of Mr. Bean
In the UK, you can find queues everywhere you go, anywhere you need to pay or get services at counters, at the bus stop, even during traffic jam (nobody is trying to use the hard-shoulder). People would queue for hours, often under freezing winter cold or blazing summer heat (sometimes with fatal consequences). At some places, queuing is often enforced by putting a snaking rope to constraint the line, sometimes with a sign ‘The Queue Starts Here’ to mark the starting point and in a few occasions, a Bouncer (or two) will guard the end
It’s not that people like it, oh no no no, they would moan about it (another of Britain’s favorite), especially when it takes too long, but nevertheless they will do it. Anybody who would dare to try to jump the queue would be instantly treated with contempt, scolded and shouted at, like criminal.
Queueing is part of the UK norm, part of their culture, and it’s one of the Culture Shocks that I like very much. It’s one of Britain’s cultures that I have managed to integrate into myself. Personally I think it has made an improvement to my own sense of discipline. So much so that when once I went back to Indonesia for a visit, I forgot that I didn’t have to queue and had to watch with horror while people kept jumping in front of me. Of course then I was forced to ‘relearn’ this old habit and started jumping like the others (sadly).
As a final thought, I believe every nation should learn to adopt this habit. I think it promotes fairness and teaches us how to be patient
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