An unofficial sport, this side of the Channel, is queuing. You have to do it everywhere: at the post office, while waiting for a tube or a bus, at your surgery, etc…There is a proper etiquette to queue. You need to be patient, courteous and maybe smile or nod, especially if you think you know someone in the queue. In short, your manners need to be impeccable in all circumstances, even if you are short of time or if it is pouring with rain or if the guy in front of you stinks because he is completely drunk. Anyone who tries to jump the queue will be told something like “Excuse me, Dear, the queue is over here, you need to get in line.”
Don’t try to be like this in France, especially in cities like Paris or Marseille, otherwise you are going to spend the whole day wherever you are queuing. As far as queuing is concerned, the French have no rules. Instead of thinking: let’s be gracious and wait for it to be over, your mindset needs to be: “How can I cut this queue?” Remember: you don’t know anyone and if you do, just pretend you don’t. All excuses are good to cut the queue, and whoever dares wins. Be really self-assured when you do it, otherwise someone will notice that you are a bit hesitant and will shout at you and might even insult you. It is all about making it look like it is OK. You can say something like “Excuse-me, but I have an appointment.”, while looking really stern. It usually does the trick. And if it doesn’t, you need to learn a few slang words to reinforce your point. Be careful, slang words might not be the same in Marseille than in Paris, and it is important to get it right. Don’t feel bad about anything said or done, it is not personal, and it will be done to you countless times anyway.
You have got to love the British politeness. This morning, I saw a lady, driving her car, thinking that there was a traffic jam, and waiting to be able to move again. In fact, all the cars in front of her were just parked in line. She seemed baffled because all the traffic lights were green but her line wasn’t moving an inch. Dear oh dear! I wonder if she is still there. I will have a look this evening, just in case.
As for me, I feel like I am now suffering from some mild form of split personality disorder. As soon as I queue, I assess the type of queue (French or British). It might be a bit complicated, the French queue is coming to London, especially after the last General Election, and the British queue exists in France too (I have seen it a few times. I couldn’t believe it). I have to make my decision really quickly and then, I behave accordingly. And believe me, I can be ruthless!
How about you? How do you queue?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London