It’s my turn!

Anybody who has spent any significant amount of time in Italy is bound to agree with me on this one. Italians have no concept of waiting in line whatsoever!

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.)

Waiting in line in Italy makes me so ANGRY! If I could just find an oversized slingshot!!!

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 Italiansย 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
Whew! Okay, I feel better after having gotten that off my chest! Sometime I just need to get on my soapbox and rant a bit. As I’ve stated before, I do like to share observations but I don’t want to be rude towards my host culture so I’d like to end by saying something nice.

Dear Italian people,

If you cut me in line I will be very unhappy and most likely give you the evil eye. You do, however, have a culture rich in history and superb cuisine. Thank you.

– The American

27 thoughts on “It’s my turn!

  1. If you are in line for register 6, you are in line for register 6 – not for every register that may open up. Each register is independent. That’s because, normally, when it’s time to pay, many registers are available. And you will be served by the one that you chose beforehand – not by the first one who happens to be free.
    And it’s up to you to make wise choices for yourself. That seems logical to me, is that because I’m Italian? ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Oh. And about the pizza-by-the-slice place in Bologna. It’s not up to the one behind the counter to know who gets to be served at any given moment. Ideally, the people who are in line should turn to him according to the line.

  3. LOL, I agree (although Zaffer’s aren’t much better!). But hey, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. So next time you’re standing in line at the supermarket, save your breath and skip to the register that’s just opened. Just make sure you learn how to ward off the evil eye first!

  4. Even if I am Italian I get really upset with people who don’t respect lines and I am always complaining about the fact that italians don’t know (or don’t bother?) how to orderly stay in lines…this could be because I lived abroad and in the UK for a while too. In any case this is a really bad habit that we have and I totally agree with you. On the other hand other nationalities have other faults so each to their own as they say…oh, and thanks for your closing letter to us!! It made me really laugh! ;0)

  5. Speaking for the Americans: It’s a first come first serve world. And you KNOW EXACTLY who was there first. The emotionally intellegent thing to do is allow that person to go first (do unto others, Italy) .
    I would LOVE to see Italian drivers at a rotary (round about, traffic circle, etc). I can imagine it would be absolute grid lock.
    Sidenote: I find that the Asian culture waits in line patiently and beautifully like a math equation, but then as soon as register opens it’s like a scene from Gladiator. Anyone?

  6. I would go insane. Not only would my line-worshiping-self go crazy with the disorder around me but I also have a “bubble” that spans pretty far around me. It would be no surprise if that bubble got continually violated.

  7. Had an experience here at an Indiana elementary school some years ago. We parents were waiting patiently in line to pick up items purchased for fundraising. An Arabic grandmother came up from behind me (I and my children were at the back of the line) and she just randomly picked a spot in the line and told her grandchildren to stand there and wait, rather than go to the back of the line in a mannerly fashion. She used a stroller to shove her way in.

  8. c’รจ un’altra cosa che gli italiani non sanno fare…mantenere la destra sulle scale (monili e non) della metropolitana..VERO??!!!!

    • Decisamente sรฌ. E stare davanti la porta del treno con lo zaino cosรฌ non puoi neanche entrare, anche se c’รจ spazio indietro per uno di sdraiare, leggere il giornale, e bere un buon mojito in gran comfort!

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