How to stop people from cutting in line when it’s not even your country by mattsteinglass
July 18, 2008, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Oddities

A propos of Kieran Healy (referencing Lance Arthur via John Gruber) musing on the emotional queasiness of norm enforcement in the context of iPhone line-cutting: I exercised a thoroughly novel and effective technique of line norm enforcement 3 weeks ago in the Kuala Lumpur airport, and now I want to brag about it. I was in line at the boarding gate, where security agents were conducting X-rays and patting people down, slowing the progress of boarding to a crawl; a long line had formed. On my right, a group of young dark-skinned guys in hip clothes, speaking what sounded like Bahassa, edged up in a groupish insidious way to the point where the front two of them were parallel with me, or slightly ahead. They were chatting with each other in a fashion that allowed them to pretend they were unaware of the fact that they were cutting in line. Over a period of about a minute I came up with the kind of comment that usually only works in movies, and then worked up the gumption to actually use it.

“Are you guys from Singapore?” I asked the group’s lead member, a 20-something with a black T-shirt and an ear stud.

“No,” he said, looking up at me and smiling uncertainly.

“No, I didn’t think so,” I said. “If you were from Singapore, you wouldn’t be cutting in line like that.”

Amazingly, it worked; they looked somewhat abashed and fell back into line behind me.

In general, however, trying to mau-mau people by reappropriating what you believe to be their cultural tropes is strictly unadvisable. The probability is that you, rather than they, will end up looking like an idiot.

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: