Waiting in line

13 Nov

One of the more orderly lines I've waited in.

I was priveleged to recently play host to a friend from Chicago and her new husband during their honeymoon throughout Asia.   We spent an evening catching up and sharing stories – I suggested one of my favorite Sichuan restaurants (read – spicy!) and we had a lovely evening.  At one point one of them asked me if by now (four years in) I was used to everything here.  I think my immediate response was that much less surprised me now than when I first moved here, but I was continuously finding new things.  Then I mentioned that one thing I still wasn’t used to was waiting in line.

Waiting in line in China is more like a contact sport than the mind numbing process in the US.  You have to continuously protect your personal space and make sure that there is no one who shoves in front of you.  When I go to the supermarket people will be standing behind me, their shopping baskets hitting the back of my knees.  If we go to a movie, the crowd around the ticket window is so close to the to person in front of you that you can feel their breath on the back of your neck.  Waiting to get on the subway a mob will form at the door and if you don’t push a little, you likely won’t get on that train. 

Contemplating further I realized that I tend to structure my day in such a way that I avoid lines.  My apartment is within walking distance – no subway.  I take lunch late – no lines.  If possible, I shop early morning on the weekends – minimal lines, at least not the supercharged, basketing pushing lines.  I suggest that my other half buy the movie tickets.  My coping mechanism is to look for alternatives.

I have gotten more aggressive since I moved here.  I can put on my game face and push to the front.  I have been known to thrown an elbow and I even got into an argument once at the airport when a middle aged gentleman cut through the taxi line.  These are all positive things, kind of.

How do you feel about waiting in line?


3 Responses to “Waiting in line”

  1. valerie November 14, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    I hate waiting in lines and will avoid them if possible – waiting in traffic and waiting to be seated at a restaurant. The only place that I deal with my frustration with a smile is at Intelligentsia — best coffee that is worth the wait.

    • gkm2011 November 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      I understand. I have tried to turn them into “zen” moments as I know there are things I can’t avoid, but I’d say it only works 50% of the time.


  1. A lack of manners « 中国 Jumble - July 5, 2012

    […] was at the supermarket the other day waiting in line.  Recently the supermarket has labeled different registers “cash only” which means […]

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