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Warning: an irritating "I'm abroad so yippee for me story" is about to commence:

The Egyptians do not believe in lines, and Americans who try to form one end up standing there baffled until they either get irritated enough to start throwing elbows themselves or a poor native takes pity on them. I cannot wait to enjoy the satisfaction of a line. I'm sorry - that's twice this week I've mentioned Egyptians. I will stop doing that.

Oh, but wait just a minute. Here's a funny story told to us by a British woman here. She was in the ministry or something for visa stuff, and in a mob of people you have to just hold your passport in the air until someone grabs it, and there was this American there who finally got his passport snapped up, and he was like, "When can I pick this up?" And the woman with his passport said, "2 hours." As he walked away, she threw it into a huge convoluted pile of passports. Yeah. I'm pretty sure he didn't get that passport for at least a week.

That said, the cracker discussion? That's the kind of thing that makes me want to beat the crap out of people. I don't have an answer to your line question because some people can pull off that space thing and some people can't. I rely on my steely eyes to get people. I always think it's going to work and then it doesn't.


Tough call. Perhaps your idea of personal space in a store queue is much more generous than the average -- though, if lapels flap, that would seem close enough to me. Still, I'd consider cutting the gap, especially at holiday time -- shoppers tend to get crankier at the register at this time of year.

And yet, there's not much that I dislike more than someone trying to push me forward in a line by their mere presence. More than once I've been in a line, had my items on the shoppers conveyor belt, but couldn't move forward (usually because of a parent with a shopping cart, kids, stroller, etc is in front of me) and if there's space on the conveyor, the shopper behind me (always an older woman -- I think a man would respect the personal space more [sorry for that bit of sexism]) will actually lean in to me to put their own items on the conveyor, as if to say, "If you'd move forward I wouldn't have to bump into you."


We're living in a society, people!


"...the back-up center on Winona’s finest 8th grade football team, circa 1973..."

K, you mean you were on Red? Because we both know Red was the best team (win-loss records notwithstanding... Black was a pack of cheaters...).

With respect to your question: there is a word that addresses this ideally. MUCH! Unless you uttered this with sufficient indignation and volume as a first reaction... ya got nothin to complain about.


I've got to agree with M, for obvious reasons. I think you followed the rules such as they exist back home. But don't be afraid to nudge, shoulder, make presence fekt in contextually approprite ways. It's something big I take from Egypt, seriously (though it seems silly, I know). Prople nudge, they get however far they can, and when they finally have no recourse, they wait--and usually, they're okay with it. I don't suggest a balls-out Egyptian approach, just that you know that an angled shoulder, a close presence, a puroseful stride, they can serve your purposes.


I've come to the conclusion that I overrate telepathy. (And also that this is a seasonal problem, in stores too small to account for lines.)


You should wear stiffer lapels.

Or hand out your ophthalmologist's card.


Honestly, Kevin? I think this is the only way you're going to stop this problem: http://tinyurl.com/yzc53t


That is awesome. Blackberry should make one of those.

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    • I’m an actual advertising writer and aspiring fiction writer and memoirist. Unprintable Version combines my reading notebooks, thoughts on writing, and tiny essays about my life as a guy from Winona living in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. As an American, I am obligated to share my thoughts on movies, TV shows, music, and graphic design.