December 03, 2006

Chinese Queues

You’ll have to forgive the terrible and rather obscure historical pun in the title, but this is one thing I can’t get used to in China and it’s irking me more and more as time goes by.

Without wanting to be too much of an Orientalist… Chinese people (well at least those in Beijing) just don’t queue very well. I hate it. I love China but I hate the lack of queues. I can’t think of anything that has pissed me off more here than watching fairly well-off and educated people crowding literally a milimetre in front of an elevator door without bothering to leave any room for folks who might want to get off. Then when the doors do open and people are trying to get off, they swarm in and it becomes a tussle to get out of the fricking elevator. And, naturally, this leads to stupid situations where you have a fairly full elevator where the person who’s getting out on floor three is at the back of the elevator because he/she rushed in first, while the person getting out on floor nineteen is practically up against the door because he has a modicum of politeness.

It goes for queues in shops without a ridgid till system. I was at McDonald’s for the first time in China the other day on a Friday night (we’re talking about 12.30 am here) and trying to form an orderly queue was nearly impossible. People would come in, waltz up to the front of the queue and begin edging their way in until they got to give their order. It also happens in any local shops you might go to. It drives me insane.

So I’m loving China. Not loving the lack of queues at the moment (and for some reason women seem to be the worst culprits). Next-up – I’ll be whinging about a 30:1 shop-assistant-to-customer ratio in various Chinese malls.


- 7 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Dude, you’ve been completely corrupted by Britain’s top quality queuing skills (Qin 5|<1LLz). If only the British had exported queuing and not empire...

    03 Dec 2006, 10:01

  2. The queuing thing is so annoying, in McDonalds its not so bad, but train stations are awful! Especially when your all ‘nee hway shwor ying-wern ma?’ and they look really scared, and you realise it’ll be luck and goodwill that gets you a ticket! good times.

    isn’t the worst thing about the staff-shopper ratio that it makes window shopping totally impossible. Browsing just doesn’t happen.

    04 Dec 2006, 21:27

  3. I just noticed you have a photo of the infamous Dove bars in your chinese gallery. Yum, like crunchy galaxy! (the snickers taste exactly like snickers the world over though, I found)

    06 Dec 2006, 00:35

  4. I must admit, I haven’t tried many of the Western Choccies here (staying away from Chocolate in general) but after going to the gym I’ll sometimes eat one of those small bars of Dove Chocolate. Really rather cute :P And it’s actually a really nice chocolate. The texture is much smoother than Cadbury’s Chocs but doesn’t have that nasty, waxy texture that some of the smooth chocs have. Yum-yum. I’m collecting some images of food from various restaurants/street stalls and the like and will be posting them in the gallery soon.

    Never been in the BJ Train Stations but I’ve used the metro and buses plenty of times (thanks to my friend Lu’s insistance) and during Rush Hour the crowds are hectic. Good thing about BJ metro was that it was either fully air-conditioned (the Yellow Line) or really well-ventilated. Great in the Summer.

    As for shopping assistants… I went to buy a new Camera recently during the day time and as soon as I entered the store it was like being at the NY Stock Exchanged, 1001 assistants trying to grab my attention with broken English and brand names. Yes that’s going to make me comfortable shopping.

    The good thing is that that once you choose a place to browse they’ll give the yelling a rest and let you go on with your business in that section until you’ve finished browsing.

    I’ve heard that women have to get used to some very personal Chinese assistants in the underwear sections in the malls. “Here madam, I’ll put your breasts in!” Ooooh dear.

    10 Dec 2006, 10:21

  5. Pavel

    Typical case of orientalism. Judging another society using your own standards. Of course they don’t queue in China, so what?!! Big deal. China is not going to change for you, my friend. If you can’t adapt here, well, the door swings both ways.

    27 Feb 2007, 09:30

  6. What might well be a case of orientalism is assuming that cultures are monolithic in nature and subject neither to change nor to difference.

    I don’t like queuing for ten minutes, only to have someone come in and barge in front of you. And I’m pretty sure that they do not like it when it happens either, be they Chinese, Arab or British.

    27 Feb 2007, 19:01

  7. And I’m pretty sure that they do not like it when it happens either, be they Chinese, Arab or British.

    The British love a good queue. Why else would they (we?) do it where ever we go, hehehe?

    27 Feb 2007, 20:32


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