The British and their queues.
Once outside the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, I asked an usher if this was the queue for admission.
“The queue. To get in.”
“You mean the line?”
“For a moment there I thought you were foreign.”
I’d always thought to that point that use of the word ‘queue’ irrevocably marked me as British, and perhaps English.
Last night I dashed out of the rain into the supermarket on the way home. There were four teetering stacks of baskets next to the automatic doors. I stood there while juggling my bag, coat and recalcitrant umbrella into an order good enough to allow me to pick up a basket.
Someone came and stood behind me. I continued fighting with that one spoke of the umbrella that refuses to furl. As I finally snapped it down, the polite German (for of course it could be no other) inquired:
“Are you queueing for the baskets?”
Is there, I wondered as I suppressed what would have been a rather rude laugh, any limit to the solicitious concern of your modern German for local sensibilities? The poor man must spend most of his day diligently lining up behind idling people in the nervous dread that they are secretly, imperceptibly, queueing for things.