Or is it “No cuts, No butts“?
Yesterday, Berlin served up such summery weather, it was only natural that we’d head down to Wannsee. It turned out to be a most educational trip…
On a Sunday, with everything closed, the sun shining, and one decent beach nearby, half of Berlin decided to meet us there. The lines to pay and get in were absurdly long. As beachgoers walked up, they appeared to take 1 of 2 tacks:
1) Walk up, survey the scene confusedly, and simply join the lines
2) Blatantly cut the line. No pretense, no “chat and cut”, just walk alongside and slip in front of someone.
For reference, this is a ‘chat and cut’.
PC and I observed dozens of cuts. I can’t say that “cutters” come from one particular demographic, but I will say they are equal opportunity cutters, stepping in front of families with small kids, old people, young people-whomever. Beyond the audacity of wordlessly shoving in front of a 3 year old kid trying to go to the beach, the truly astounding thing was that NOBODY SPOKE UP. Even cut victims simply shuffled along without a word. Is this to avoid confrontation? Is this behavior acceptable? Not one person gave the standard gentle admonishment, “umm the back of the line is over there.” We resolved to speak up if an attempt occurred near us.
Sure enough, we got our chance. We had watched a young man, and several of his friends walk up toward the front of the line. Then, as a few members of the group strolled away, the young man sidled up alongside us, and began edging in front of PC. Immediately, PC explained to the youth that he best get to the back of the line. The youth stood there defiantly.
PC explained to this youngin’ that we had been waiting for an hour, so ummm no freakin’ cuts. The kid then said something to the effect of “but have you seen the line? it’s so long!”. Ummm boo hoo?
So all of these people who dutifully waited must give way to you, because you find the line too long for your liking? Ok. PC proceeded to accentuate his larger frame, and gave him the “shoo” sign. The youth got pissy, and started acting aggressive. By acting aggressive, I mean he was trying to stand his ground while visibly shaking, mouth aquiver looking up at his rather taller adversary. It was all i could do not to laugh.
After a protracted stand off, the kid relented- AND TRIED TO CUT THE PEOPLE DIRECTLY BEHIND US. These people had an interesting response to the maneuver. They simply said that the kid couldn’t cut in from of them, but gave him leave to go behind. The kid jumped behind, was joined by five other people, and the matter was settled.
Still stunned by the whole interaction, ANOTHER person tried the same thing on us a few minutes later. However, after PC gave the “ah hell no”, this “cutter” just backed away good humoredly. Five minutes later, we noticed that a few people back, this guy had not only found a spot, but about 10 damn friends had joined him.
Upon consulting the interwebs on this queue jumping, I soon realized this issue has long been lamented by Brits and Americans. As internet discussions often go, those who speak out against line jumpers, and those who think we should all just get over it engaged in the eloquent use of curse words, multiple exclamation marks, and the old favorite, CAPS LOCK. However, I did get a kick out of this representation of the issue:
One of the other more amusing comments on the topic, though I’m inclined to think it fiction, was the tale of a German spy attempting to infiltrate British headquarters in WWI. On a mission to sabotage the delivery of Christmas gifts to English troops to break their morale, he poses as an English officer. However, the jig was up when tea time rolled around. Rather than waiting in the queue for his tea, he pushed in front of the other officers , thus exposing himself as a German!
I hadn’t ever noticed cutting this blatant in Germany. Sure, at the supermarket when a new cashier opens up it’s a mad dash irrespective of who might be next in line. Sure, I’ve been shoved and pushed in stores or getting on trains. However, most of the time, people are reasonable and respectful. Therefore, I was completely shocked by the scene at Wannsee.
I grew up with a mother who dutifully informed any grocery store line jumpers that they were, well, ‘out of line’, even if it didn’t affect her directly. For me, waiting your turn in line signifies a common respect for each person’s time. Jumping the queue is not clever, it’s rude. Of course, this isn’t my culture.
This all leaves me a bit confused. Do I accept and acclimate to the culture, or do I continue to become perturbed by it all?
In the end, we shook our heads, had a good laugh about it, and enjoyed the beach.