Saturday, 15 October 2011

I Never Miss My Queue

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ I Never Miss My Queue ~

I Never Miss My Queue, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
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An epiphany is upon me people, and I didn't even see it coming.

The realisation hit me as I was waiting for my morning bus with a bunch of other miserable communters, huddling under the meagre protection offered by the shelter from the spiteful rain; if this had been Britain there'd have been about five people actually protected from the elements with the other 25 dutifully trailing off into the distant yonder.

And woe betide anyone who might dare to seek a piece of that beautifully spacious oasis of dryness, thus defying and defiling the sanctity of The Queue. You wouldn't last two seconds I reckon before some octogenarian assassin slipped the handle of her walking stick around your ankle and dragged you crying and screaming to your rightful rainy place... at the back.

But that's Britain, and this is France. And the thing that shocked me about my realisation is that I now genuinely find the idea of actually queuing for a bus, in an inviolable line, quaint and somewhat stupid. Oh dear.

It's just that, in my nearly twenty years here, I've hardly ever seen anyone get upset or put out by this system of arriving, waiting, huffing and demurely bustling. It seems the most natural thing in the world, and, if you like, rather quintessentially French. There's an underlying courtesy culture here which is very visible in the Bonjour Monsieurs and Madames when you enter a bakery or arrive at the cash till in a supermarket which carries on through to getting on buses and trains - most of the time (rush hour and strike days being obvious exceptions, just like everywhere).

I've embarrassed myself back in Britain more than once by saying 'Hello' (or even 'Bonjour') to the supermarket girl and getting shot a look as though I'd just asked her to join me in the sack then and there. And if you say 'Hello' when you go into a baker in my home town in North London they'd probably just call the funny farm on the spot.

But being that queuing, or rather the lack of it, is favourite fodder for all those oh-so-funny whingey ex-pat-wanna-be-elsewhere blogs and poke-fun-at-the-Froggies publications, I was all the more surprised to find that I'd 'flipped over', as it were. I now quite happily plonk myself at what looks like the best place to be at any given arrêt autobus and gently but firmly head towards the bus when it arrives, hoping that my luck is in and the doors will open right in front of me.

Of course, I exaggerate; the French do queue in places like supermarkets and banks like the Brits, they don't cue for trains, like the Brits, and it does seem that bus stops are the ultimate crucible of a nation's queuing tendencies.

Propensity to queue? Queuez-thee ? In the end it's up to you. Q.E.D.

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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