In Peace Corps Morocco

Your a line jumper

You fill up your basket with items in the grocery store. Ok now what’s next? You scan the checkout lanes to discover the shortest or quickest line. You join the other members of the queue and even though sometimes frustrating, you wait your turn with patience.
You take a trip to Cedar Point. You can’t wait to ride the Raptor. You join the line and again, wait your turn.
Lines work. Lines, however frustrating, are fair. If you’ve ever seen one specific Cici’s Pizza commercial your familiar with the term “line jumper”. “You’re a line jumper,” the woman shouts. Nothing is more irking than a line jumper. If your gutsy enough to take cuts you deserve what’s coming to you. Shouts or looks of death from surrounding people. This concept is as normal to us Americans as sliced bread. Little things like this we don’t really see as part of a culture. Well the fact that we respect a queue and wait our turn is a huge part of our culture. The only way I figured this out was to be elsewhere, where this concept is not as firm.
The other day I entered a mobile wireless provider branch that also sold office supplies and also provided copy services. All I wanted was a small notebook to start writing lesson plans in. When I entered the situation I was second in “line” so I stood quietly waiting “my turn” while the man in front of me was waited on. As I stood more people entered the small store behind me. The woman clerk of the store had met me before but wasn’t the friendliest of all women. I had thought that she noticed my presence and she would ask me what I wanted but I was far from correct. Well I was right, she saw me there, but my mere presence wasn’t enough to get service. Three people behind me moved themselves up to the counter and stood horizontally across it. They pushed their business to the middle of the counter. As this point I knew I had to prepare for battle. As an American I feel a social obligation to respect a line. I had to suppress this feeling and put myself at the level of the other customers. When I saw a break in the clerk’s work I said “excuse me please.” I’m sure you can imagine my little voice. I said “I need a notebook please.”
I got my notebook and the woman didn’t even tell me the price. She went back to waiting on the other customers. Again when I saw a free moment I asked “how much.” Then I threw my money down trying to get out of there quickly. Through this entire ordeal my body language and facial expressions were expressing discomfort, annoyance, and frustration. Either these signals don’t translate across languages or the people around me are so used to this they wouldn’t even have the idea that someone could dislike this process.
I’m not a person who enjoys being rude. I will save my rudeness up for when it is absolutely necessary but I don’t feel comfortable doing it on a daily basis. I feel that by pushing my way towards the counter, getting in the clerks face, and overwhelming them that I am being very rude. But if I continue with this mindset it may take me 20 minutes just to get one item and I will get walked on over and over again. I am not tall and I don’t look threatening but I desire to put out an outward image of strength. This is something that I have always struggled with. I don’t want people preserving me as a door mat. So again, as much as my inner sirens are going off and as loud as my conscience is screaming “wait your turn, wait your turn”, I must ignore it. When in Morocco do as the Moroccans do.

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