What up with the Polish?

I’m in Krakow right now having some dental work done. I’ve been here 3 weeks and will be here about 5 weeks all together. They have excellent dentists but because of the lower cost of living and the exchange rate against the dollar, it’s about half of what it would be in the U.S. For what I’m having done it would probably be around 17,000 at least. Krakow has an intellectual tradition, there is a big university here and there are signs of western influence in that there is a mall, several large grocery stores, and building going on in the suburbs commerically and residentially. The secondary roads are horrendous with actual craters everywhere. Highways are good. They still have a lot of little specialized stores like I saw in Lithuania several years ago. The little almost higher level shacks where they sell cigarettes and fruit on every corner.

I was in the grocery store tonight and waiting in line when a big, thuggy guy saw two of his friends coming along and motioned them to get in line with him. If this was where I come from, well no use discussing it, because it absolutely would not happen. I know Americans have a tradition of waiting your turn at risk of death. And I know that in some Asian cultures it’s every man for himself. So, this pissed me off and as much as I wanted to say something I held my self back because either they were police or criminals or just rude oafs. And no one around me said anything. Almost like they were afraid to. So, I got in another line to cool off a little. I was tired, it was late, my arthritis was hurting me and I was mad because I had to wait 10 minutes longer in line.

I have no concept of what happened. Is there anyone from Poland that could enlighten me or was this a one-off and nothing to do with anything, just rude people? I can put two and two together and get five sometimes. I have observed that the people here in general don’t like to wait and will cut ahead of you given the slightest excuse. So, maybe they don’t consider that rude.

No clue about Poland, but from what I understand from people I know from Germany (and some parts of Britain, not sure if it’s as widespread there) lines/queues are more “suggestions” than actual rules. If you can get into a conversation and “accidentally” get in front of them while keeping them occupied with small talk it means you outwitted them, not that you’re rude. The one you saw was a bit more blatant, so it’s probably still a little against social customs, but probably not enough so that anyone would have bothered to speak up.

We spent a total of about 4 hours driving in Poland in 2004. We entered in Berlin and then drove up to the city that I cannot spell to re-enter into Germany.

The backtowns were grim. The roads were horrible ( and here in Michigan, we know horrible.) and all the teens we saw were dressed like Gangsta’s.

I felt like I was in some time warp throw back to the pre-WW2 days only in color with grilz.

i lived in Krakow for six months and never saw behavior like what you’ve described. What part of town was the grocery store in?

Krakow is quite the college town – there are several post-secondary schools there in addition to the venerable Jagiellonian University.

Shirley, what do you mean “we entered in Berlin”? Berlin is neither in Poland nor on the Polish-German border. Perhaps you drove from Berlin toward Posnan, crossing the border at Frankfurt am Oder?

Well, that’s kind of a relief. It scared me a little as I’m pretty old now and can’t defend myself! It was at the Tesco out on Wielicka at that big center. In general, people have been kind to me but they don’t have that personal space rule like Americans so it’s kind of disconcerting at first; plus, they will squeeze through a tiny space just to get around you in the store. They are set on full speed ahead all the time!

She probably said Berlin because it’s the last city on the highway to the Polish border. By the way, if anyone reading this plans to cross at that point, there is a lot of constuction and the highway is closed and driving the detour in the dark through all those small villages on what could not by any stretch of the imagination be called “roads”, more like cow tracks with craters, was not a good experience. And it was friday, so like most Poles, they were out walking, walking, everywhere and if they claim one right, it’s the right of the pedestrian over the car (okay, so that’s fair) BUT they don’t even look before they enter the road; that’s true here in the city also. They are good about waiting for the green light, but on the side streets, it’s a full time job keeping an eye out for bodies, even women with babies cross without so much as a look to see if some nut is bearing down on them.

It’s hard to be in another culture and not know the rules. For example, the cleaner was supposed to be here at 10am and it’s now 11:30am. When I was in Lithuania time commitments were only a “suggestion” as I found out. Being American, if you say 10am it means 10am because I’ve got other stuff to do man! So, I’m hanging out until she gets here.

Absolutely 100% wrong. We Brits invented queuing. Cutting line here is likely to cause a lynching.

After hes had his severe beating of course.

Agreed on British queuing. I have never seen such excellent standing in line as I did in Britain. Once I was waiting for a bus in London and having arrived about ten minutes early, I pulled out a book and started reading while standing. I was pretty engrossed in the book and wasn’t paying terribly close attention, so I was extremely startled when the bus arrived and I twisted around to put the book back in my bag - only to discover that there were four other people standing behind me in a perfect line! Americans are pretty good about not jumping the queue, but in this situation, they would have been milling around and only lined up to enter the bus.

I’ve never been to Poland, but I have spent a lot of time in other parts of Eastern Europe and they are pretty much the worst line formers I have ever seen in my life. I mean, it is BAD. I’ve totally had old ladies cut in front of me. And getting on a bus is the worst - everyone just stands around in a mob and elbows each other until they can force their way onto the bus. I grew to dread this experience after awhile. I wanted to send them all to Britain to learn how to stand in a line properly.

Ever been to Spain? Exact same mob and pushing situation, especially for the bus and for movie theaters. If you have a small crowd, say ten or fewer people, there will be a verbal queuing system (you say, “who is the last?”), but more than that and it just becomes a heaving mass of people shoving toward the front.

Heh. Old ladies are pretty much exempt from all social rules in Eastern Europe, didn’t you learn that? :wink:

Yeah, queueing in Eastern Europe can be quite the exercise in frustration. I personally have never noticed such blatant cutting in Poland before, but, in Hungary, I totally witnessed the public transportation mob mentality where everyone is trying to elbow their way on the tram at the same time everybody is trying to elbow their way off the tram. I found it best simply to stay out of everyone’s way and just take the tram that was, more often than not, quite literally immediately behind the head tram and practically empty.

Our queuing ettiquette is not down to our inherent British good manners unfortunately,its due to the fact that if you cut in you are very likely to get involved in a fight or extreme verbal abuse at best.