Yesterday we had a few errands to run in town. The first one was at the bank to pick up our new check book for Red Roof. As a point of interest, checkbooks with 50 checks cost $5.00 bze ($2.50 usd). In any case, I was standing in the Customer Service line, behind two other people, when a lady walked in. She briefly stood in line behind me (I was last), and I could see on her face she was in a hurry.
Suddenly, she spotted a friend at the counter already being helped, so she got out of line and went up to the counter to talk to her friend. Of course, by this point, I knew exactly what she was up to, and sure enough, she managed to get the attention of an agent and cut in front of the rest of us in line!
At this point, I was mildly irritated, but since the next person in line had been called, I only had one more person in front of me, and I decided to not get too worked up. But then, amazingly enough, it happened a second time. That’s right – this time, a younger gal walks in, gets in line behind me, and then bypasses me and the guy in front of me and goes to the counter.
Once again, an agent starts helping her. By this time, I’m pissed. I mean here this other guy and I are waiting patiently, being rule abiding citizens, and we’re getting nowhere quick for our good behavior. I’m fairly certain that Belizean children get taught good manners in school too: say please and thank you, don’t chew with your mouth full, and don’t cut in line.
Still, I kept my cool. After all, the guy in front of me barely registered any sign of being upset. And that’s the thing! When you’re a foreigner in a foreign country, it’s very important to observe how others are reacting to the things around you, especially the things that are irritating you.
I could have caused a scene. In both cases I could have tapped either gal on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but you should be waiting in line like the rest of us.” Or, I could have told the agent, “That gal just cut in front of us,” and looked like a 3rd grader, ha-ha!
But instead, I contained my frustration and modeled my behavior after everyone else. Because honestly, in a small town, you don’t want everyone looking at you as that crazy white lady. Plus, there are different rules about standing in line in Belize. And while it doesn’t happen to me often, from time to time, someone will line jump, and I find it best to just go with the flow. Especially if I’m not in a hurry, why make a big deal out of it?
In the end, fate interceded, and the last girl to cut in front of us had to wait a while before the agent she grabbed was ready to help her. In the meantime, the guy in front of me got helped very quickly, and I ended up leaving before her. Small victories are the best kind!
Could you learn how to not react like you might have in your former country and model your behavior after the locals?