Queue in Paris

I am unsure whether kindergartens in Paris teach children how to form a line, but it was imperative for me in the United States. In fact, learning how to stand behind the next person while standing in front of another simultaneously took precedence over coloring within the lines and tying one’s shoes. I would have to say that either Parisians had horrible teachers in this field or they flatly refused to learn this as they got older.

  • Soundtrack of the report
  • Patience
  • Guns N’ Roses

I don’t want to come off like that foreigner who complains about cultural differences…but I am. I just can’t accept messy lines and cutting. I refused to take the “when in Rome” philosophy when it came to consciously making a person who had been waiting longer than me to wait even longer by stepping in front of them. Well, I refused until now. After a particularly long wait at the taxation department – in spite of drawing a ticket and having my number called – I thought it would be an interesting idea to attempt to beat the Parisians at their own game by cutting in line at least once per day for about a week. Here are some outcomes of this experiment:


Okay, I know this doesn’t seem like a fair start since most people tell me that there are no lines in the metro stations, but I had to begin somewhere, I had to start off slow. What better place to practice than the subways of Paris? I found a young crowd of women standing close to the edge of the platform. I waited until the train reached us and stopped before squeezing myself between them and skipping in without any words exchanged. I do this almost every time, now, because it seems like nobody cares. However, I did realize that it’s not very polite to enter the metro before letting others get off. I did get some exchanges doing this. I still considered this a very small victory.


I had to get my physical exam and, while there were not as many lines as I expected since we’re made to sit down until our name is called, a line did form near the end of this long process. It was a line of about ten people waiting to get their OFII applications stamped and I noticed that names were not called while the line was beginning to lose its shape. I saw the perfect opportunity to move in front of an old Asian woman with her husband. As I began passing in front of them I noticed that the woman began smiling at me as if this was a common practice. I took her smile as a good sign before taking she and her husband’s spot two places ahead of my old one. A few minutes later I noticed that their smiles had turned to confusion as two other people had cut them as well. I learned on this day that when one person cuts another it’s free game for the rest to attempt to do the same. Although, in spite of actually cutting a person in line, I still thought it didn’t count since this married couple might not have been Parisian because we were at the Office of Immigration. Therefore I didn’t feel as satisfied as I thought I would feel. I had to keep searching for an ideal cut.


Series to be continued next week