Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Last Bastion of Civility

In a recent college class, we were talking about cultural differences.
I asked the class to come up with a list of things a student from another country would need to know if they traveled to the United States.
They suggested things, like "Learn English," and "Don't stand too close to someone when you're talking." They also said visitors needed to understand freedom of religion and freedom of speech in the United States.
Is this a line or a clump at the ice cream cart
 in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris?
One woman in the class was from Mali. She had some interesting insights.
"Respect the line," she called from the back of the class.
"What?" I asked.
"The line. Americans always stand in line and they never get in line in front of someone else," she explained. "It is more important than religion to many, that we respect the line."
The other students nodded and talked about how everyone in the line would be upset if someone cut in line. Everyone is expected to uphold the integrity of the line and wait their turn.
To people from other countries, where they clump together and push their way onto a bus or into a store, the idea of standing and waiting in a line may be very foreign. But in America, it's the way of life.
Here, we may disagree on politics and religion, but we all respect the line.


Suzie Tullett said...

We Brits are the same when it comes to queueing. And woe betide anyone who dares to push in! x

Linda said...

True. I see a lot of jumping of lines in Paris and no one says anything, although my husband does come to think of it.

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