Friday, October 1, 2010

Waiting in line in Spain

It’s not quite the free-for-all that it looks like, there are certain rules:

  • If someone needs to temporarily leave the line, they reserve their spot with the person in front of them (not the person behind them, as in Anglo-Saxon countries).
  • Friends and acquaintances can be let into line, and you can let them get in behind you.
  • People make up random reasons for why they shouldn’t  have to wait. “I was here an hour ago but had to leave” is a good one. Ignore them or pretend not to understand.
  • If you come somewhere (like the bakery) and there’s a mass of people waiting, ask around for who is the last person and go after them.
  • Spanish people are pretty strict about enforcing rules if the line is static. Once it starts moving though, all bets are off and you need to defend yourself. The trick is to hang around in the vicinity of the front of the line and pretend you are doing something else. Once the gate/door/etc opens, use the confusion to slip in and no one will even notice.
  • Special rules apply to grannies. They get away with murder… the other day one scooted in front of me while I was waiting for the vegetable scale at the supermarket. She then proceeded to yell at the guy paying at the cashier because she had parked some of her items at another cashier (who had closed in the meanwhile) and thought that she should still be first in line.

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