Friday, 30 March 2012

The British art of queueing

I'll admit most of what I learn about what it going on back in the homeland is through twitter. American news is very American bias and most of the British news that ever gets a mention is related to the royal family. Yet I've been seeing rather a lot on facebook and twitter about the potential of a fuel strike causing endless queues for petrol, something which seems to be an annual thing in the UK. This got me thinking - one comparison I notice a lot is there difference between the UK and the USA's art of queuing.

Source

In the UK we love to form orderly lines and patiently wait, not only for petrol it seems but also for buses, in stores, for the post office and banks to open. It's seen as one of our national pastimes being ranked second behind talking about the weather in this Telegraph article. It's a way of being nice to our fellow people and we glare at queue jumpers. It's part of doing our bit, but its also something that defines us as being British, its one of our national traits recognised and known by foreigners. The British just love to queue even to the point while researching this post I stumbled over plans in 2010 for all immigrants into the UK to be taught how to queue as part of their citizenship application, I'm unsure if it came to fruition.



In America not so much - although people still queue over here it's not welcomed as much and they never get to the extremes like they do in the UK. I noticed this first in Chicago when we were waiting to catch the bus. Rather then forming a queue people just gather and regardless of who got there first, people just pile on board.

Have you ever noticed this queuing art form? Do you think the UK has certain national traits? What other traditions do you think our countries both have?

34 comments:

  1. "Regardless of who got there first, people just pile on board" - ugh! I can't bear this! I shall NEVER get a bus in USA! I think I need a nice cup of tea now.

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    1. And talk about the weather too? Haha. Yeah it felt rude at the time - we'd got there first and every one was walking past us. Maybe we were just unlucky on that bus?!

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  2. Hahaha that's so weird about the bus in Chicago. At my bus stop in the UK everyone waits for the person that's been there the longest to get on, even if they're not paying attention and don't move! And I definitely give people the evils if they jump the queue!

    Just taken some photos for the collectors post :) x

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    1. Yeah after spending nearly two years commuting by bus I was often the first to get there on the way home. There was a lady that *always* pushed in first and she gave people the glares if they then dared to get on before her or sit in "her" place on the bus.

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    2. Ha ha this made me laugh - yes it is DEFINITELY the etiquette to wait for the person who has been there the longest to get on first, even if you need to nudge them. Polite. x

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  3. Well, I'm from Belgium and I went to Canada four years ago and people were standing in line waiting for a table at a restaurant! Never saw that before :p

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    1. That is so true, they do that in the states too - its crazy!

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  4. I'm such a queue etiquette fiend. Woe betide if you jump in front of me - it's just not polite!

    Jem xXx

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    1. Good for you! I could have used you on my bus trips!

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  5. I think it's definitely one thing the UK can be proud of - our art of queuing! It just seems to make more sense and is the polite thing to do. Obviously if an old person or a pregnant woman got to a bus stop after me I'd still let them on first...but I hate rude people (especially teenagers) that try and push on even though they've only been waiting a couple of minutes when others have been waiting 15!

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    1. Sometimes I find the middle aged people are the worse for queue jumping - that really annoys me!

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  6. The whole fuel thing is so ridiculous. They have said they aren't even going to strike over the easter holiday's yet people are still panic buying! People who generally need petrol are getting caught in massive queues for like no reason xx

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    1. Yeah so i've heard Char and then the people that do need petrol can't find it!

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  7. Ha Rachel it's the same here in Canada in regards to the bus thing (or in Toronto at least!). I'm so used to that lovely art of queuing that I was taken aback at the subway station when the bus pulled up and everyone just piled on - no respect for the lineup!!

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    1. I mean don't get me wrong I remember on the London Underground queuing to a point goes out the window! But over here you feel like it's every man for himself!

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  8. this is really interesting! and yeah, i never really thought about that before, but people never get in line at the bus stop... ;) now i want to know more about the differences and similarities of the uk and america. :)

    <3, Mimi
    http://whatmimiwrites.blogspot.com/
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    1. I try and do the odd comparison post every so often so keep your eyes out!

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  9. I didn't used to notice it at first, I grew up thinking queueing was the 'normal' thing to do, until I realised that it's actually only Brits who seem to excel at it!
    I must admit when we were in Disneyland I was so shocked at the way people pushed infront of me xxx

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    1. I know, in England we'd just moan about the queues but get on with it. Everyone else it's like push in time!

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  10. I agree queuing is an art! Having lived in the UK for several years and knowing what 'queuing' is like in other countries, I must say that I very much like the UK way. I am very sensitive when it comes to queue jumpers; it is something that pushes my boiling point button and each time gets me into a little conversation with the offenders who don't see it as a big deal. It's in these moments that I longingly think back to my queuing experiences in London... :)

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    1. I've always wanted to say things to queue jumpers but i'm far too shy!

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  11. lol that's so true, us brits have a thing about orderly queues :)

    Sanam x
    My Fashion/Photography blog: DayByDiva

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    1. And if we're talking about weather while in said queue, even better!

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  12. This is so interesting to me......I've never thought much about queuing here in California, but I do know that if you step out if line here you loose your spot!

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    1. Yeah sometimes we English ask to keep the place in the line and we often fall for that!

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  13. In Australia I think we're more like the British. We queue in (mostly) orderly lines. We do have a few rude people who don't pay attention to rules though!

    x Jasmine

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    1. There's always some that try isn't there where ever you are in the world!

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  14. The buses here in Edinburgh are terrible for queueing, everyone seems to loiter around the bus stop instead of forming a queue. (Maybe because there are lots of tourists here who aren't used to our strange British ways?!)
    Just had a read of that Telegraph article, and I have to agree with most of that list haha!

    Gillian x
    elevatormusik

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    1. It can get like that in York too, especially in the summer months. People see a bus and just charge. It's even worse at Christmas when everyone has huge bags and they are like charging past you knocking you out of the way.

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  15. God this post made me laugh!
    I am definitely one of those people that glare at queue jumpers.
    Now, after reading this post, I actually think us British are polite when it come to queues. When I have been on all inclusive holidays in the past, the amount of foreign people that just jump the queue when others are waiting to get food is crazy!
    Although in Liverpool Central train station, queues do not exist in the slightest. It is mental trying to get onto a train.
    I love these type of posts that show the differences between countries, so interesting!

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    1. Train stations can be the worse of places, especially when people are pushing you out of the way with all their bags!

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  16. you should try queuing in the Philippines - like hunting the snark. It seems to be a totally alien concept: you get to a service station and lo and behold! there's someone right in front of you after the same thing! but painting arrows on the ground and giving out numbers to people as they come through the door does help to an extent.

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