Many years ago, I visited Italy (along with a lot of other European countries). It was well before the age of ATMs being everywhere, the Euro and the ability to make cash withdrawals from an ATM overseas. We're talking the dark ages. Ancient history. The early 1990s.
This meant I had to visit a bank every week or so to either change currency, exchange travelers cheques or fill out a lot of forms to withdraw cash. Italy in particular had some weird banking laws that meant you had to go into a bank to do a lot of the things that you can do at a kiosk or ATM elsewhere.
I hated doing that with a passion. Because Italians in Italy don't queue. Especially in banks.
It was a massive culture shock for me. Over here, as in most western countries, you walk into a bank and there is one of those portable barrier thingys showing where to line up. Not Italy. You walked in, and immediately joined a massive scrum at the counter. Old women elbowed you in the guts to get ahead. Men just shoulder charged and rammed others aside. It was total chaos. Friday night happy hour at the bar in the most crowded pub in Australia is more cultured, orderly and organised than an Italian bank counter. I wonder if things have changed?
I left Italy being so thankful that we live in a civilised country where people are prepared to queue - to let those that got in line first get served first. People take their place and no one gets to jump ahead. The antithesis of Italy was when I voted at Bondi Beach one year. Like just about everyone else who was voting that day, I'd been for a swim and was lined up to vote in my Speedos and bare feet. The line was long - it snaked right out the door of the Bather's Pavilion. Just behind me was a well known multi-millionaire, also dripping wet and in his bathers. In some countries, he just would have walked to the front of the queue and brazened his way in; or officials would have seen him standing there and come out to lead him to the front. Not here - he just stood there happily like everyone else, waiting his turn to be processed and chatting with those around him in the line.
I love that. I'm so glad that we don't let those with money push in ahead of the less fortunate and less wealthy.
Ahah! I see what you did there.
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