Queuing in line and Chinese people are an interesting combination. Interesting is also Google Analytics that tells me by using which keywords you arrived to my blog. Among those keywords and phrases there are also lots of questions. I decided to answer to some of them because you were clearly looking for an answer and might have been disappointed when you couldn’t find it from here.
Here comes the questions:
What do Chinese people think about cutting in line?
Someone might think that there are now lines in China because there’s more cutting in line than staying in the line. But I have experienced some very strict queuing here in Guangzhou so it can’t be totally true. If you wait for the bus B25 in Tianhe, near tiyu xilu (体育西路) metro station, there’s is a clear line waiting for the bus.
Now comes the confession! I tried to cut in that line once and failed miserably. Everyone is tired and everyone wants to get a seat, but in this line everyone is also waiting for their turn.
You might think that the line is formed well because most of the people waiting are university students. Shouldn’t they be smarter because of their higher education? You will forget this very soon when you try to get into the B25 in the other end, at the University Island (大学城).
But if you decide to take a metro instead of bus, then you can use your elbows freely. There are arrows in the floor showing you where to get on (上车) and where to get off (下车) the metro. These arrows might have some meaning in the beginning of the queuing, but as soon as the metro arrives to the station, the lines become a mess. There are staff working at the metro station and trying to shout to their microphones, but it has little to none effect.
Why Chinese people cut in line?
In my theory it’s all connected to this “if you’re family I do anything for you – if you’re a stranger you are nothing to me” mentality. It haven’t been too easy for Chinese people in the past and they learned to survive. And if you have to choose do you save your family member or some random guy on the street, it’s an easy decision to make. There are so many people in China (more than 1.3 billion and 14 million of them in Guangzhou) that it’s just too many to care about everyone.
P.s. I’m willing to change my theory if you can prove another one makes more sense!