I’ve said it before I will say it again. Most Saudis don’t know what a queue, also known as a line is.
Other foreign concepts include (but are not limited to):
Standing in a line.
Waiting for your turn.
First come, first served.
Just in case someone might not know what the last phrase means here is what Wikipedia tells us: “first-come, first-served and first-come, first choice – is a service policy whereby the requests of customers or clients are attended to in the order that they arrived, without other biases or preferences. The policy can be employed when processing sales orders, in determining restaurant seating, on a taxi stand, etc. In Western society, it is the standard policy for the processing of most queues in which people wait for a service or two.
Why doesn’t this concept apply to Saudi-Arabia? Why am I constantly being cut in line by a “VIP” who thinks their existence is more important than others? Why are people in such a hurry to be served first? Why are people so indifferent to others in their presence? What causes this rude behavior? Why is it acceptable to act this way?
Just an example from yesterday.
I was shopping at the IKEA food market and had picked a few must-have items (such as Finnish black licorice, rye crackers, gingerbread and frozen crawfish) and had proceeded to the cashier with my basket. There was one woman standing there so I automatically went to stand behind her, to form a line.
So next thing you know another woman comes from the side and shoves her chocolate bars on the counter and the cashier automatically serves her. I was annoyed but thought this is normal here so I didn’t bother to say anything. Then another woman comes from the other side of the counter and starts waving her money and candy at the cashier. He sees me, but takes her first.
My annoyance is growing. Next I push my basket in front of the cashier and say, excuse me, I’m next. No use. He takes the chocolate bars from the insisting man next to me. A boy comes from the behind him and pushes a licorice bar almost directly in the cashiers hand. All the while I’m standing there with my basket and telling him I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes here. He completely ignores me and proceeds to serve the Saudis as if he didn’t understand anything I just said.
I have the baby in a stroller behind me and she is getting really fussy and my husband is still busy with something else. By now six people have jumped the queue so now I was determined to get served next. Then what completely topped off my irritation was when a girl and her mother came next to me demanding to be served immediately, of course. The girl was waving a chocolate bar. I told her mother excuse me there’s a line here, I was first. She ignored me. Then the girl tried again and I pushed my basket in front of her so that she couldn’t even reach the cashier. And guess what the mother does?
She whispers something in the daughter’s (age around 7 yrs old) ear and next thing you know the kid shows up next to the cashier with her chocolate bar. I glanced at him with a look that could kill but regardless he took the chocolate bar and the girl and mother started giggling in a juvenile manner. That is parenting at its best for you. What an exemplary woman. I’m sure the girl will grow up to be just as rude, selfish and immature as her.
The cashier then finally took my basket, dumped all the stuff out on the counter and started throwing (no joke) THROWING it around. I asked him what are you doing the cookies are fragile they might break! He looked at me with a blank stare. Then I asked him why didn’t you take my things before, I was waiting a long time. He said, because you have so many things.
REALLY? You have got to be freakin kidding me. So the more things I have purchased the longer I have to wait in line for? Everybody with less items is allowed to cut me in line? What if I purchase two items at a time and then make a new purchase every time? If a hundred people come with one item, I will have to wait with my 15 items until you finish them? He obviously had never heard of customer service or first comes first served principle. Just because I chose to buy more doesn’t mean I loose my right to be served when it’s my turn. Sheesh. Who will teach these people manners?? Who will instill customer service into their brains?
What would you have done in this situation? Had a nervous breakdown, called the manager, grabbed the chocolate bars from the other customers hands and thrown them around or just walked away and not bought anything?