While Brits feel that they have the monopoly on orderly queuing, Italians can surely claim the award for simply hanging around waiting for something to happen. When a Brit queues, generally speaking there is an expected end to that queue: either you can see the amount of people in front of you or you have a rough idea of the time it will take to be your turn. This isn't the case in Italy. Here, a queue is often open ended, a state of being with no foreseeable end. Either you're expected to wait with your numbered ticket in hand or you're ordered to come back the next day (sometimes both!)
Let me take you the bus stop as an exemplary microcosm of Italian queuing etiquette. At an Italian bus stop, people wander up and down and drift in and out of a non-existent queue. It's more of a random cluster really. Today for instance, I had been waiting for the bus for about four minutes when an Italian lady nonchalantly tottered past me and plonked herself into prime position to get onto the bus. No one took a blind bit of notice.
This is the land of the opportunist.
Back on the other side of the Channel, this outrageous behaviour would have earned her several shaming 'tuts' which would no doubt have led to the lady retreating to the back with her tail between her legs. Indeed, in England, I wouldn't dare leave my allocated spot, mainly for fear of the patronizing phrase, 'did you know there's queue??' when I returned. I have been programmed by British customs to keep a mental list of who has arrived first and who has therefore merited the honour of entering the bus first. Without this order, society would surely collapse.
What are your experiences of queuing in Italy, Britain or abroad?
Can social etiquette ever be a hindrance?