Not a Queue

more than a year ago

A seemingly straightforward concept, while standing in an orderly line is probably as unconsciously ingrained where you come from as staying to the right while passing in a narrow corridor, here in Poland, queuing is a cutthroat game of cunning and sabotage. It appears that decades of communist rule, which featured endless necessity-induced queuing to obtain the most basic goods - and then quite often only to find that they weren’t available – obliterated any respect the Poles had for the concept of an organised line operating under an unwritten but widely-accepted code of etiquette and common courtesy. Such a queue did not bring about any reward during the cold war era. Sadly, the most courteous family was the family without toilet paper in those days. Rudeness and results began an unholy marriage and queue barging became a common practice that endures to this day. Simultaneously, Poles were also being conditioned into complacency over the poor quality of services rendered, regarding the resultant queues to be as unavoidable as sleeping. Even the most modern Pole today seems to accept that, cumulatively, years of his or her life will be spent standing in line. As a result of this national apathy, you can anticipate spending part of your trip to PL in slow-moving lines as well.

In such situations patience is both a blessing and a curse as everyone and (especially) their mother will attempt to oust you in line. Tactics include confusing and deceptive bursts of Polish dialogue to the effect of “I was standing in front of you" (when they clearly were not), "I’m late for something, I have to go before you” or more commonly “I’m older than you, let me go first.” Another well-loved strategy occurs when someone arrives at the queue, tells you they are in front of you, then leaves only to appear again just as it’s about to be your turn.


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Over a year ago
Maria Donely

Really bad example for a nation prone to violate any order rules. See U.S.: black Friday at Best Buy, airports before any holiday, DC highways during rush hour, or any other CVS for that matter. Trust me, Polish queue tricks become a subtle folklore compering to American ways.
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