Queuing the Cypriot way!

It is with great pride that I welcome yet another new section to our growing site. This time called “The Cypriot Way”. This guest column is the opinions of Maria, who moved to sunny Cyprus from Norf Lundun, on some of the strange things we do on this island without even noticing it. The articles are not intended to offend anyone but instead provide a refreshing and humorous view of our everyday habits. 🙂 Enjoy!

As Brits, we are proud of many things, queuing seems to be at the top of most things ‘British’. We may not be big smilers or big talkers but damn it we know how to queue. We have consideration for others around us. If they have been queuing before us, and we join another next-door queue and the position becomes free, we would normally offer it to the person next to us who has been queuing longer. Its common courtesy is it not? In Cyprus, the queue hasn’t been introduced yet.

My first experience of the non-queue was at the hospital. I had broken my toe and had to regularly go to the hospital to have the wound dressed. There was a ticket machine – well I exaggerate, it was a box with some cardboard numbers hand drawn onto them, thrown in this box in no order at all. Some people had numbers, others did not….a sure fire way of a ‘I was here first, no I was here first’ situation presenting itself. I took a number which resulted in many eyes settling on me with a look that said the numbers mean nothing. I later found out they indeed meant nothing. People just went in as and when they pleased. I missed my turn the first time I went to the hospital but after that I learned to toughen up and if anyone tried to go in before me, I would say ‘um no excuse me, I’m next’. The elderly members of society always always push in. They feel they have earned their right not to queue, ever. It’s happened to me at the post office, the doctors, at shops, banks, everywhere and you feel awful telling them to wait so they always get away with it.

A few months ago I was back at the hospital to go for a blood test. I walked in and saw a mass of people. This cant be for the blood testing I thought to myself. I handed in my slip of paper at reception and asked her where I had to go. She nodded towards the crowd of bodies and said ‘there’. She may have said to me, forget the next 4 hours of your life because they will fade into oblivion as you wait in a non-queue to give blood. You will have to fight and argue and shuffle forward till you get your place in front of the door. And once you get to the door, who knows, is there is anyone behind it?….they all may be doing more important things like watching the Cypriot soaps on tv, smoking, drinking coffee, gossiping about Maroulla from the canteen who was caught with Bambos in the staff lift….. Everything in Cyprus is ‘Siga siga’…slowly slowly, though sometimes slowly can mean still.

Its nice not to rush and panic, there isn’t that frantic rush you find in London the moment you step out your front door, but when you need something doing asap a bit of British methodology doesn’t go a-miss!

ASAP – ‘as soon as possible’ in Cyprus it means ‘As Soon As Petros comes back from the cafenen with my medrio I will read the paper, visit the toilet, smoke a fag, close for a mid afternoon nap, forget that you needed anything and wait for your call the next day chasing me up’.