It’s something that will make an American such as myself go absolutely out of his freakin’ mind! The lack of respect for somebody patiently waiting his or her turn in line is so unabashedly rude that it’s made me honestly consider just packing my stuff up and getting the heck out of this country! Arghhh! (“Well go then, Mr. Complainy Pants”, say my offended Italian readers.)
I swear on everything holy, if I were an Angry Bird and the Italians were green “non-line-respecting” pigs, I would throw myself on a giant slingshot and wreak havoc! My anger would certainly propel me towards getting all three stars and racking up a new high score!
Sometimes I really wonder if Italians see me waiting in line and think to themselves “What’s this idiot doing just standing there in front of the cash register blocking me? I know, I’ll go right around him and take care of my business. Good thing I have common sense!” This line cutting is by no means restricted to a certain town, type of customer, or store either. Whether in Palermo or Verona, a young girl or an old man, the dry cleaner’s or the bakery, waiting in line remains an unknown concept in Italy.
Let me give you two unnerving examples from my own life:
- I’m at the supermarket in Milan, waiting patiently in line at register 6. I’ve been in line for about 15 minutes when register 5 suddenly opens up. The woman behind me (who got into my line about 17 seconds ago) rushes over to be the first in line at 5. Not only did she not tap me on the shoulder and say “excuse me sir, register 5 is open” (as somebody in the USA most likely would have), but when I try putting on an apologetic face and saying to her “sorry ma’am but I was before you”, she responds by saying that I was before her in line for register 6 and if I’m too slow to move to 5 before her, then I deserve to wait in line all day.
- I’m in line at a busy (and understaffed) pizza-by-the-slice place in Bologna. I was innocently looking at the pizzas available, trying to decide which one to get when the kid behind the counter asked me if I was all set. I assumed that if he were talking to me that it must be my turn, so I ordered. Apparently, there was another guy in the pizzeria that was there before I was, who I honestly did not see in all the unorganized chaos. He told me he didn’t know what country I came from, but that here in Italy they have this thing called “waiting one’s turn in line”. The gall of an Italian daring to talk to me, an American, about the sanctity of waiting in line prompted me to respond “Oh yeah, pal? You want to see real line-waiting etiquette? Come to America, we’ll blow your effing mind!” I then left without having eaten any pizza at all!