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Quetiquette

Queuing for Muse @ Teignmouth - 4th Sept 2009

Queuing for Muse @ Teignmouth – 4th Sept 2009 (Photo credit: tj.moore)

Queue: chiefly British, a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed (Oxford Dictionaries Online)

Queuing is an integral part of the rich tapestry of British culture. We know how to queue, how to behave in a queue – in short we are masters of queue etiquette – quetiquette for short. Some people of other nationalities appear to have a somewhat confused understanding of quetiquette. By the way did I mention that I am holidaying in France at the moment?

So because I am so public-spirited, I thought I would enlighten those who appear a little unsure of the basic rules of quetiquette – below are the cardinal rules if you want to queue successfully.

1. Join the queue at the end. This may seem blindingly obvious but it is extraordinary how many people think it acceptable to join half way or worse push in towards the front. We Brits have a word for such people – queue-bargers. If you should fall foul of this very basic rule then expect a lot of tutting and cries of “this is a queue you know”.

2. It is perfectly acceptable to listen in on others’ conversations in a queue. It is totally unacceptable to look as though you are listening to others’ conversations. One of my favourite queue occupations is constructing plausible lives for my fellow queuers from snippets of overheard conversation.

3. The very nature of queuing means you are closer than you might like for an extended period of time to total strangers. Be careful not to be a space invader. The merest accidental touch/bump of a fellow queuer must be accompanied by excessive and effusive apologies.

4. Conversation whilst queuing is a potential minefield and should only be with the full consent of both parties. Just remember that if you say the wrong thing, there is no quick exit and in addition, note point 2. It is advisable to keep to safe topics. In the case of conversing with the British, safe conversational topics are the weather and of course the finer points of the art of queuing.

So there you have it. Keep to these quetiquette rules for successful and socially acceptable queuing. Of course these are just the cardinal rules, the art of queuing has many other more subtle nuances which take years to master. I must dash now as I have a queue to join (at the end) for a ski lift to take me up a mountain on my non-skiing skiing holiday or my après-skiing holiday as I prefer to call it.

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10 thoughts on “Quetiquette

  1. The worst offender to quetiquette is when (maybe this is just here in America?) someone walks up to a ridiculously long line and steps towards the front, then looks confused when someone calls him or her on it. Then they adopt a bumbling sort of “oops” response: “Oh! All of those people wrapping around the building behind me are also in line?? Why, I am so sorry! I thought they were just enjoying the sunshine!” Ergh.

  2. I experienced this a lot when I lived in France. It seemed like there was no such thing as a line (what we Americans call it), and people would just sort of bunch up to get into whatever the destination might be.

    It is a pet peeve of mine when people simply don’t pay attention to their surroundings and march forward as though they are the only ones in the world.

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