Service With a Smile: Drawing


  US-American pattern


            Common behavior in Asia, Latin America and Africa





Lining up in a single line, or queuing, is what most US-Americans choose when deciding what would be most efficient (and fair) when they draw their ideal way to arrange themselves and others to obtain service. However, doing some common activities overseas like shopping or using public transportation can be a shock in some countries where there is, for the novice, no obvious and easily discernable order, and much pushing, shouting, and shoving is going on.  Perhaps the closest analogy might be open "concert" seating, which usually means that all your ticket gets you is admission, but obtaining a good seat is up to you. 

Most US-Americans will feel quite at home in England and much of Europe, where queuing is seen as good breeding and where anyone trying to "cut" will be severely chastised. However, in much of the rest of the world, from buying stamps in a rural post office in Uganda to trying to use the local bus in New Delhi, such activities can be both an adventure and a trial.  

Many daily transactions in much of the world outside of Euro-American countries are governed more on the basis of social rules and personal interaction than upon ideals of commercial efficiency and its "time is money" ethos. Things are often slower, less regularized, time-consuming, and, yes, frustrating for US-Americans if they are unable to be flexible and congenial in the process. Again, knowing the local customs regarding "lining up" (especially if the locals are likely not to do so) is extremely useful information and can lessen "culture shock" if you are mentally prepared. Even more important might be understanding why this is the custom and trying to see how this trait is related to the way people conceive of time, space, and communication. Continue to section 1.4.5 for a discussion of these important differences.



INSIGHT..!     Lining up and not lining up are culturally determined behaviors.