Queue Survival

by Nathan Hamm on 6/9/2005 · 4 comments

Rita Storm has an article on surviving lines in Russia that should resonate with others who’ve spent time in the former USSR. When we bought train tickets in Tashkent, we always went into “diamond formation” to keep people from sneaking in ahead of us. Four kinds of culprits are classified in the story, including:

The Sneaks — these people pretend they don’t see you as they quietly move their bodies, inch by inch, elbow-shoulder blade-both-feet past you from the spot behind you. It must be a Russian thing — if you see this going on in an airport check-in line anywhere else in the world, you can be certain that the flight is Moscow-bound. Say you picked a waiting spot at an angle to the person in front of you as you took your place in the line, the Sneak is going to take that as an invitation to pretend that you’re not really in the line — you’re obviously just standing next to it. So he or she will stand at an angle to you and slowly but surely cut the distance. If you point out that you were there first, they’ll either bat their eyelashes and say, “Oh! I didn’t even notice you!” or else scream and bitch that you were never there and that you should have been more clearly in the line.

I’m something of a “lesser sneak” myself.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 3 comments }

yan June 10, 2005 at 7:07 am

Sounds so much more civilized than China or Mongolia.

I think sneaking is contagious. Once you’re exposed to it, you’re likely to become less shy.

Tim Newman June 12, 2005 at 2:02 pm

The queue I witnessed in Domodeovo airport resembled more of a rugby scrum than a queue.

Nathan June 12, 2005 at 2:49 pm

I saw a similar thing in Yakutsk’s airport. Back then it was still possible to get around things like that by having your host point out that they had an American who needed to get by. Airport authorities treated such things as something only locals must suffer through. Not sure one could get away with that now.

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