ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


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.

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