Lines and Queues

I was quite moved yesterday when two shoppers simultaneously put their stuff on the checkout counter, the clerk actually asked “Who was first?” instead of just ring up the nearest item and not care if anyone had cut in line.

Let’s face it, whatever you call them, lines/queues just don’t work the same way here as they do back home, or simply, don’t work. Someone always cuts in (though more discreetly than blatantly) in convenience stores, MRT stations, bus stops (if there is a line to begin with), supermarket checkout counters. How do you deal with line cutters? I think part of the problem is that the person in charge often doesn’t do anything about line cutting. Back home you always hear, “Can I help the next in line?” Here, it’s whoever puts their stuff on the counter gets helped. :x

Not necessarily, if one of those putting things on the counter is a foreigner who is suffering from that terrible “transient transparency syndrome” that seems to attack most of us from time to time…you know, that thing that makes you go completely transparent so that the clerk doesn’t even SEE you standing there. I hate when that happens… :unamused:

Coming back from vacation this week I knew that I must be getting close to Taiwan when lining up to board the plane the line instantly deteriated as people began pushing their way to the front. I don’t know why they even bother calling by row number.

On the plane the Thai. stewardesses gave up trying to control the Taiwan travellers from pushing their way through the aircraft.

Of course every place has their own idiosyncrasies. Some worse than this I am sure.

On planes, I hold my bag in such a way so that those behind me can not push past. If they try to move my bag, I tell them that if I have to wait for the plane to clear, so do they. It doesn’t happen too often though. And I think orderly lines are becoming increasingly common in Taiwan.

Here it’s not NEAR as bad as in China. Going to McDonalds was like watching the fall of Saigon. Forget people cutting in line, there was NO line, there was a swarm, nothing short of a swarm of people gang rushing the counter. People just holding their money over the heads of everyone else, shoving it in the fase of the cashier. It was disconcerting at first, but I learned to join in and shove with the best of them. And getting on trains and boats? Forget about it. I realized I had gone completely insane when I was trotting down the platform and hurdeled someone’s bags, then realized there was a number on my ticket and no one else would be sitting in my seat so there was no reason to run. I went back into a leasurely stroll and marveled at all the locals running by. Then it occured to me that they’d get all the good bagage spots. Into the fray.

I think Tawianese have become very adept at lining up. At the MacDonalds’ or the 7-11 you can always see the formation of a line, or at least a semblance of a line. This was not the case just a few years ago! The only place where I still see crowding is at the bank, but what do you expect it’s all about the money!

It’s a good point and helps keep Taiwan in perspective. Yeah, there is pushing and shoving, but it’s nowhere as bad as China and unlike in some countries, I don’t worry about it erupting into a gunfight or anything. But what confuses me if the inefficiency of it sometimes. When I want to get on an elevator, especially a small one, it makes sense to let the other people out before I get in. It minimizes the bumping, etc. But I continually see people push their way into the elevators even as other people push their way out. Strange…

Yeah, elevators good point. No line-ups there. In Kaohsiung they still haven’t figured out why escalators have a yellow stripe painted down the middle, I think they feel it means one side for each foot.

It used to be like that with the escalators in Taipei, but now it is rare to see someone just standing on the left side. Everyone moves over to the right side to let the walkers up. And you could see it happen over a few years, that attitude growing.

Same with cell phones: I notice that fewer and fewer people talk loudly on their cell phones while riding the MRT.

[quote=“kelake”]Coming back from vacation this week I knew that I must be getting close to Taiwan when lining up to board the plane the line instantly deteriated as people began pushing their way to the front. I don’t know why they even bother calling by row number.

On the plane the Thai. stewardesses gave up trying to control the Taiwan travellers from pushing their way through the aircraft.

Of course every place has their own idiosyncrasies. Some worse than this I am sure.[/quote]

Dang, on my last trip to the US, some Taiwanese guy sitting behind me took his shoes and socks off and then put it up on my armrest near where my head was while I was trying to sleep (leaning against the empty chair next to me). even when he moved it to the adjacent empty seat armrest (only 3-4 ft away), I could still smell his feet. he finally covered it with a blanket. it made me kinda peeved.

The MRT here is nice. everyone seems to understand the escalator stand on right, walk on left rules.
things are improving a lot in China. i do see lines in the subway for tix tho lots of people still cut in at the front.

this also explains why old little ladies like to get up right behind you in a line so close they are toe to heel with you. i understand that if you leave a space, that’s just an invitation to cut in, but man one time, in a bank lineup, we were the only people and this lady kept on bumping into me afraid of losing her spot. :laughing:

Escalators are “one-way” and such a comparision to elevators is flawed.

In fact I am convinced standing on one side and giving way to a handfull of people who are in a hurry is in fact slowing things down.
Imagine people would use both sides of an escalator instead of squezzing into one queue first - the througput could be dramatically increased, in particular at the MRT stations.
Those who think they are in a hurry just have to learn to be patient (or run up the staircase) … why give way to a few and the majority has to “suffer”? Wouldn’t hurt them and it’s their fault if they are late …

I still have people pushing me, mostly at the cashier (supermarket etc.) - usually I will turn around and ask friendly to be more cautious or maintain distance. The 2nd time I will give a looks to match my mood and remind them again - but the third time I will push back; so happened after that bitch drove her cart three times into me while queueing up at the cashier at IKEA. After that she got the message and a bruise …

I don’t care who it is, it you cut in front of me I will let you or the clerk understand the problem, unless you happen to be a babe. :wink:
I can’t accept rude old people. Ankle tap them and use them as a mat. :smiling_imp:

Old women getting on buses here

A couple of kidney digs usually slows them down or stuns them

In the past, I had to bark endless peremptory jie guo’s and deliver quite a few stern lectures to people who were blocking my passage by standing on the left side of the MRT escalators, but now most people do seem to get it and no longer need to be told.

And yes, the Taiwanese are getting much better at queuing – I’m sure a lot of that can be put down to the enforcement of queuing discipline on the MRT, which has been very helpful to ingraining it as a habit.

Ironlady: absolutely, I know just what you mean, it’s really maddening. They’ve noticed there’s a foreigner who they’re going to have to attend to, are going into a panic at the thought of the difficulties of communication and horrible misunderstandings and potential conflict that they think are bound to occur, and are snatching at every available means (especially pretending not to see the foreigner and dealing with everybody else first) to put off the awful moment as long as they can while hoping against hope that perhaps, just possibly, the foreigner might give up and go away or just disappear like some nasty hallucination or maybe there’ll be an earthquake or some other act of God that will save the day for them.

Rascal, go lie down by the AC and have a cold drink…

I’ve killed three people here who cut line in front of me. ‘Maximum’ Fred Smith would have been proud of me. One with a carotid hold I learned in the Navy and two with neck snaps. It happened so quick everyone thought they died of natural causes.

Don’t cut line in front of me unless you want to take a quick trip to the darkside.

I’ve roughed up and grievously insulted several other wannabes. Even I was a bit ashamed of what I said to them after I cooled off.

Conversely, I never cut in front of anybody here, even if they’re three feet tall and hanging back. You got there first, you goin’ first, suckah. Git up there and do yo’ thing or ah’m a gonna whack you too.

That’s the great thing about being a transparent foreigner here. They’re never quite sure what hit them.

You join Rascal by the AC… I’m going to bring you two some nice hot fudge sundaes and we’ll have a chat about your behavior.

What I did once was I just dumped my purchase on the counter, said “Wo xian lai de” and went next door to buy it.
Other times I clear my throat when someone pushes in front of me (silly me for not wanting to hump the person in front), I get a “Dui bu chi” as if to mean “Sorry, I didn’t see you there”, Excuse me ? I’m twice as big as you and you didn’t see me standing here ?

Don’t they use numbered tickets in Gaoxiong? Here in Taipei, the number machines have pretty much eliminated the problem of crowding in banks. But of course, a different form of line cutting is done in this system. I hate it when people grab a number first before they fill out the transaction forms, and then when their number is called, they’re still filling out the forms.

It’s been about two years since the last time I’ve visited “the mainland,” but the worst lines in Taipei are still better than the best lines in China.

In 1994, standing in “line” trying to buy a hard seat train ticket to Kunming the week before Spring Festival (that was a dumb idea), later trying to buy a bus ticket in Qinghai, and so on and so on–any unruly line in Taipei seems perfectly orderly after those lines.

And in Taipei, if you point out that someone has cut in line, you usually get a “dui bu qi” or a “bu hao yi si” back. Most of the time on the mainland, pointing out that someone cut in line was the opening bell for a fight or an argument.

I can’t speak for the rest of Taiwan, but lines in Taipei are not that bad, imho.