samedi 23 février 2013

La Queue

The French have a very organized way of waiting in "la queue"*. I witnessed this once again while waiting my turn at the hospital a few weeks ago. I walked in to the waiting area, only to notice one woman behind the desk and many more outnumbering her in the Salle d'Attente**. I was a bit nervous already because of my impending surgery, but wondering how I was going to get noticed in this sea of waiting people was beyond me. My pushy American self started to show through and I was poised at any minute to throw myself in front of someone who I knew had sauntered in after me. Then, I remembered, aha, you look around and notice the last person who arrived - and how do you do that exactly? This is basically what the French do - and it seems to work well, but I am never sure.......Well, easily enough, the woman next to me took it upon herself to start asking around whom was next and whom was last so, I would then become the "last" in. As more people arrived, they would ask who was last and it proceeded like that. I of course, was still at the edge of my seat waiting for the lady before me to finish. As soon as she was done, wouldn't you know it, but someone got up next and started to proceed to the woman behind the desk. My American side started to rear it's ugly head and I politely said, "I think I am next. You are just after me." She looked at me, and said, "Yes, of course, you are right and sat back down."No arguments, nothing. I felt awful for being so rude, but I get taken advantage of alot here in France because I don't know the "unwritten code" so to speak of certain things. When I was finished, I smiled and turned to her and said, "Yes, now it's you." She said, "Thank you" and that was that. I don't think this "waiting for our turn" method would work in USA as we need organization and structure. If we don't know exactly when our turn is by a piece of paper with a number on it, forget it, all hell would break loose. The French have managed with this system quite well, but it is all the "étrangers"*** that cannot cope with this loosey goosey process. Incidentally, la queue can also mean a ponytail. The latin origins mean tail - so literally one makes a tail when making a line or having a tail down one's back.

 * line
** waiting area
***foreigners

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