Monday, June 23, 2008

Queuing Day

The summer between 8th grade and freshman year of high school, my family went with my dad to China on a business trip. Likely the first time I'd ever been to China, since I don't remember any visits prior to that. Aside from the usual tourist attractions (Summer Palace, Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City), we also paid a visit to a McDonald's where there was some crazy lack of appropriate line formations that resulted in what I consider to be mini-rioting. To many (American) people, cutting in line is unacceptable ("No cuts, no buts, no coconuts!"), but it appeared to be the norm in that McDonald's (which I can only logically extrapolate to be indicative of China in general). I think either one or both of my parents had to elbow-and-shove their way to the front of the line to put in our order. (“When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” or more accurately, When in China, do as the Chinese do).

It's funny that queuing (a.k.a. "waiting in line") has now become a topic of concern for Beijing's city government with the 2008 Olympics quickly approaching. So much so that the situation calls for queuing days. For Americans (Western society in general, I'd venture to say), waiting in an orderly line is what we were taught to do as soon as we were old enough to follow directions. Line up to go to lunch, line up to go to recess, line up to come back from recess, line up to wait your turn for anything and everything (real rioting and concerts excluded). Can you imagine what'd it be like if things that we normally waited in line for turned into a free-for-all?

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