Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lines in Italy Explain My Exasperation

Indexing previous reporting from my 2019 Italy trip:
The Naples Diet
Lines in Italy Explain My Exasperation

One of the many quirks here in Italy is that whenever you find yourself waiting in line, random people appear, not to wait on line, but to sort of commune with the queue. I suppose this is purely social, ala “Hey, look! People! Let’s stand around over there!”

So whenever you need to buy tickets, or a beer, or enter somewhere popular, it’s fiendishly hard to tell where the line ends. I keep finding myself waiting behind random people who merely appear to be waiting on line when they’re actually just queue-adjacent; queue hangers-on.

It took a few days to process the fact that I’ve explained a perennial pet peeve. I’m standing in some orderly line, facing forward, tapping my foot or otherwise conveying via body English that I’m waiting, when some ditzy person walks up and asks me whether I’m on line.

“No, the others are on line to talk to me.”

“Line? What line?”

“Yes, but for five bucks you can have my spot”

“No, I’m on antipsychotics”

I never say these things, of course, but, in my exasperation, there’s ample time to stockpile flippant answers (I could keep going for days).

Now, finally...finally...I understand this phenomenon. There are places in the world where people cluster near lines - engaging chameleon-ish powers to appear extra queued - for no discernible reason. So when people ask the irritating question, there’s a bona fide reason, buried deeply in deep social memory, for them to do so.

This is why we travel.

Next installment of my Italy trip: His Dying Thought: Oh, right; this is how you die in Italy


Display Name said...

I love these stories of cultural differences. Do people in Italy seem to live at a more relaxed pace? Around these parts (burbs of Philly) the merry go round keeps spinning faster and faster but oh my there are pockets of calm. On saturday around eight pm after our fox escapade we continued on to tjs. It is a bustling area. But I park in back near the natural buffer area. As I pulled in cdc noticed that the spring peepers were still singing their electric song. I had thought they were done their performance til next year. After I composed myself we did a quick shop at tjs and since it was the night before Easter we got some almond butter cups. Cdc was looking a little dazed so I asked the cashier if he had a tool to open the little tub of candy. He opened it and I was so blissed out that I offered him one. Cdc said he looked really surprised but cheerfully declined. I said tjs gave me so many samples I wanted to return the favor. Was fun but didn't linger because peepers.

Display Name said...

I love your flippant answers. Wait everyone is not just incessantly yapping on their cell phones? I need to move to Italy!

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