23 April 2008

The American queue

Queue is a term with European connotations, found in a cultural Rolodex alongside institutions and words such as prime minister and colour. I live in America where these words normally have little use when describing activities within my countries borders, though what I saw while waiting for a late BART train a number of weeks ago was undoubtedly a queue.

Not the Usual Commute
I make my way down the left-hand side of the escalator in my usual hurried "New Yorker" fashion, scowling at the always present individual who stands on the right with their baggage spilling into what is my expressway. As I alight from the moving staircase I look from my feet to the scene spread in front of me, which causes me to double take. I see so many docile San Franciscans queuing to board their train, in a decidedly orderly fashion. Huh? What happened to the usual hodgepodge of persons milling about the platform? I soon learn of a track delay, which has caused there to be a particularly large number of people waiting, who have decided that what better thing to do than to line up. Before continuing, I must note that the BART has marked where the train doors will be when a train pulls up, versus New York where there are no such markings. Thus there importantly exists a point to queue up to. Regardless, in days past I did not see such conduct, so it seems that my fellow city dwellers have only decided that today will be different. As my mind races to makes sense of all this, I am left with the tentative conclusion that there is something fundamentally different about San Francisco. Neither good nor bad, but certainly un-American. I'm soon spared too much worry about loss of cultural identity though; A train arrives and while the queue begins boarding from the right, a throng of us bypass what we understand to be an optional line, and board from the left.

Image from http://www.zannel.com/webservices/content/LF1JL1A0T1/Image-568x440-JPG.jpg

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