Lines (or Queues) in Oman

Monday, September 14, 2015

I think that when people have a discussion about the cultural differences that exist between Americans and many parts of the world, the subject of personal space comes up. I think it's a universal known fact that most Americans require a bigger amount of personal space than other cultures. I don't think I've ever been to big on my own personal space. I actually consider myself to have a smaller personal space than most Americans. I'm quite touchy and I'm probably the one that intrudes on your personal space.

Anyways, I haven't experienced any invasions on my personal space (I don't think?), but there is one thing I can't stand that's been happening to me here. And thats when I'm in line. I don't think people understand how to stand at least two feet behind me when I'm at the counter. I feel it has happened to many times to just be coincidence. It's not even at like a McDonald's where it's that kind of dog eat dog line. Which BTW I have experienced, but I let it go because I mean it's McD's. But It's at an empty cafe and just two of us in line. This morning, I'm next in line so I go up, I'm trying to get the money out of my wallet (mind you, I barely understand how to pay) and the lady behind is already putting her cookies on the counter. The counter that I am standing in front of that is the width of my body. Can she not hold her 3-cookies-in-a-baggie for five more seconds? She literally had to reach over me. Also, when I am standing in line, waiting for my turn these people are like breathing on my neck. Or they're like not even in a straight line, like who's next? And as you know, I am not a confrontational person so if they cut me all I can be is mad. So if I know I'm next I just make sure to talk to the cashier first when they come back. It just happens to be that every time I have been next in,  the cashier looks to the person next to me, ALTHOUGH I AM STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REGISTER. I'm not even directing this post to native Omanis because it literally has been every person from every walk of life doing this. I will probably start counting the hair on people's neck within the next two weeks too. Even once at the ATM I saw people too close to each other, I think in the US someone would've told you off. It is probably just selected people here, but there are enough people doing it that I notice.

 See if we're in line and you get within a foots distance of me, you are in the red zone, as the visual I have provided suggests. AND I WILL START BEEPING ONE OF THESE DAYS.

I repeat, do not cross the orange circle. We are not at a lawn seating Beyonce concert. We are not at the carniceria. We are not getting on the bus. We are not at the pulga. We are not at a rave. This isn't 2012 the movie and we're trying to hop on the last "ark" to save us from Earth's end (I hope I have the right film). 

Please take the time to read an Indian's post on his (funny) experience with personal space in the US:

When I moved to the United States, I didn't quite understand the idea of personal space — both in terms of privacy and body contact. It took me quite a while to understand that I didn't have to stand right behind the guy in a line — when I say right behind I mean my body touching his — waiting to get on the train or to order food at a café.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Several years ago, I found myself at a post office in Virginia. The big gaps between the customers made the line longer than it needed to be. It was spilling out of the small space. I had never seen anything like this before.
It didn't make sense to me that people were standing so far apart. So I moved closer to the guy in front of me. He immediately turned back and looked at me, then moved a couple of paces ahead, reopening the gap between us. I didn't understand why. I turned back and saw the person behind me hadn't moved closer to me. I moved a couple of steps again and got closer to the guy ahead. This time he gave me a stern look and moved away. I was confused and wanted to know what I was doing wrong. I put my hand on his shoulder gently and asked, "Is there anything wrong?"
He actually got out of line and left the building. In a hurry.
Read the whole article here
In conclusion (who else started their final paragraph like this in 5th grade), I haven't had people invade my personal space elsewhere than in lines. I am probably exaggerating, but I am just very observant here. I notice everything and everyone. I think I am more uncomfortable with the fact that something as simple as a line gets on my nerves & my Americanness is coming out (which is probably always out, but that's beside the point). I will ask my host parents if they notice this or it's just me.


(I really want to make my currency post, but it will have to wait)

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