07 June 2007

Getting All Assertive

One of my continuing frustrations at living in Switzerland is the number of people who will completely ignore the fact that others are already waiting for service and go directly up to the staff. There is usually quite a lot of grumbling, but no one does anything about it. Including the staff member even when they have seen it happen.

This occurs often enough that I have spent a great deal of time analyzing it. Frequently while watching it happen once again.

This is my theory. The Swiss tend to be extremely non-confrontational. Therefore, the Line-Jumpers know there is very little chance that anyone will call them on their behavior. And when someone does, they act very innocent as if they didn't see the line and had no idea it was even there.

I have learned to combat this by confronting them and they usually back down pretty quickly.

This afternoon I was standing in a line of three people waiting for one of four cashiers to be available. A woman breezed through the door, walked past the line and stood immediately behind a customer who was about to be handed their purchases.

The man in front of me and the man behind me both looked perturbed, but did nothing.

"Entschuldigen Sie!" said I.

The woman turned to look at me.

"Eine line!" I said, completely forgetting the German word for "line."

She pretended to not understand and turned away.

"Nein," I say, pointing at the line, "Eine line."

She went to the end of the line and said "Es tut mir leid. I weiss nicht." (I am sorry. I didn't know.) As if! Of course she knew! It was very obvious there was a line of people waiting for help.

The man in front of me gave me a short, but emphatic, nod of approval.


The Big Finn said...

Good for you! I confront people all the time when they try to cut in line. I'm always polite VERBALLY, but I do tend to combine it with the DEATH GLARE...which I probably shouldn't do.

Global Librarian said...


Has anyone ever fainted from fright?

Beejum said...

So, what is used as the German word for 'line' in that situation?

Global Librarian said...

Reihe (row) would have been the correct word. But in my indignantion it flew from my mind!

CanadianSwiss said...

You did the right thing. I could slap these people! Another line would be: "Entschuldigen Sie, wir waren alle vor Ihnen hier." (excuse me, we were all here before you)... and practise the TBF glare.

Marcy said...

WOW this seems like such an un-Swiss thing to do! I have not seen this happen in Geneva yet, but I'll keep my eye out for it. ; )

Global Librarian said...

I thought it was un-Swiss as well. However, as time I went on I realized it was very much Swiss behavior!

swissmiss said...

As US-Americans we're also more likely to get cut in line because we leave larger personal space buffers between us and the person in front of us, especially at a cash machine. I can't tell you how many times people can't imagine that I'm in line because I'm not, you know, actually touching the person in front of me!