Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Missing Queues

September 9, 2010 · 2 Comments

Today I decided I would run my own Kate Fox type experiment while shopping on Oxford Street. Knowing how obsessed the British are reputed to be about their queuing, I intentionally stood out of place. I was the only person waiting in line for the cash register, so instead of standing in what was obviously the entrance to the queue path, I stood awkwardly to the side and began my own line. I even made sure to angle myself so that I was not directly facing the register, attempting to further the confusion. The results were quite amusing. One man it seemed had decided he was better of mumbling to himself and walking in circles rather than try to get behind me. Another shopper kept walking back and forth between where he knew the real queue should start and where I was standing. However I noticed that no one actually asked me if I was on the line. In the States, I would simply ask the person in front of me if they were waiting to be helped, they would give me an answer, and that would be the end of it. (Image taken from )
I definitely understand what Fox was talking about now, when she said that the British will harrumph and complain, but won’t actually take any action to solve their problem. A few simple words to me would have easily resolved the issue and we all would have felt a lot less awkward.

Categories: 2010 Sarah
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2 responses so far ↓

  •   battilaj // Sep 10th 2010 at 16:11

    My mom reads all the blogs (because she’s crazy) and she found this one and demanded that we be best friends. I realize that isn’t constructive; I just wanted to let you know.

    I’ve been trying to make eye contact with everyone I pass and smile. It makes people so uncomfortable. I’m guessing it’s more of a city thing than a British thing.

    I did get a ton of angry stares at the library yesterday though, and I definitely think it’s the result of British dis-ease. No one told us what rule we were breaking.

  •   becca136 // Sep 13th 2010 at 14:06

    In London people are quite accustomed to Americans and other foreigners doing things like this, especially on Oxford street. I see that you got the response you were expecting, however I think you should try and do this experiment again once you get to good ole’ Norwich and compare the results to the response you got in London.

    -Rebecca Rodgers

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