October 31, 2009

Utter Chaos

The other night I was in a situation that could only be described as insane. It was complete and utter chaos.

So Thursday nights are the most crowded at the promenade and the kids and I went for a walk that night and stopped at the supermarket there. It's a small market and it was really crowded. Filled with people buying drinks and snacks sold cheaper than at the cafe's that line the promenade. The kids chose a few candy treats and we got some drinks and got in the really long line. They only have 2 registers at this store and the lines were all the way down the aisles. There were some people who stood in a line but many others who just shoved their way to the front and stuck their items in the cashier's face, totally ignoring the line.

I've made a diagram to illustrate the situation.

At first I just mumbled under my breath how crazy this was. Then people in line started getting impatient and frustrated with the line cutters, voicing their objections in whatever language they spoke.

At one point some dude a few people behind me just shoved his basket on the register table, somehow thinking he was someone special. He must have thought the rules didn't apply to him for some reason and at that point I had just had it. I turned around and yelled "Mayenfa3sh kida!, Fee taboor hina" (You can't do that there is a line here!) to which he replied that he was in line and I said "Ana hina ableek" (I was here first!) He claimed he didn't see anyone in front of him. What? This huge crowd of people, you didn't see them? Why would I yell at this guy if I wasn't in fact, in line. I am not confrontational especially in public with strangers but I really reached my boiling point. The cashier guy was already scanning his stuff by now. Astaghfirullah, (God, forgive me) I was so angry.

I don't understand why he kept ringing up people who were just getting in the front of the line without waiting. One girl tried to cut in front of me and I told her, sweetie, you can't go in front, there's a line. She had one bottle of Coke so I told her I'd get it with my stuff since it was almost my turn. She gave me the money and waited outside. It was totally unfair and completely crazy. I really felt like I got a glimpse of how a mob of angry looters could form. It was that bad. I had the kids wait outside, holding hands. I wanted to leave the stupid basket and get out of there but I hadn't waited in line for nothing. I finally checked out and got out of there but what a nightmare.

I have questions. WHY do they think it's ok to do this. WHY didn't they learn about getting in a line in Kindergarten like we did. Will Egyptians ever be able to adhere to order and follow rules??

I know one thing. This would NEVER happen in America.


  1. Wowwww I didnt think they would of been that bad,Ive got this totally different picture painted of the middle east,I always think to myself most of them must be muslim so it musttt be all humble,I think I better think again lol, I cant believe they just push infront thats soo rude

  2. ha ha you're wrong it does happen in America and at the masjid no less. you should see how the ladies act during iftar just cutting in front of the line and pushing their way in (and it's not Egyptians btw)! ah, it makes my blood boil just to think about it. when will Muslims learn proper adab. anyway, i know how you feel...

  3. One word. Italy. The worst line-pushers I've ever met were there. InshaAllah this whole country will somehow learn Islamic manners (and stop using wasta all the time too!), but until then...Sharp elbows get the message across. :)

  4. oh i hear ya. it is beyond maddening.

  5. Anonymous12:42 PM

    It made me laugh a little...sorry :)!However,it's good and right that you said your thing!!!
    You know in my village in Slovenia it gets really crowded during the summer and scenes like the one you described can be quite common.At the end of the summer,everyone,workers at the supermarket and villagers all discuss how nice it is that the summer is over ant that now it will be less crowded at the shop.He,he,he...some humans are like animals :).They want to prevail over the others.Anyways I hate it too when people don't have manners.Hate it!But,I guess things like this can happen everywhere in the world!
    Kiss,kiss my honeybee :)!

  6. Skye, common misconception. Absolutely rude. And it was as if this was ok. I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

    Stephanie, the masjid doesn't count because we all know people revert to the old country ways there regarding litter, rules etc..I mean it wouldn't happen on a normal day at the supermarket.

    NoortheNinjabi, Wow, Italy? I wouldn't have guessed that.

    UmmTravis, I knew you'd know how I felt.

    Jasmina, It was FAR from funny. I don't get it. It's just wrong.

  7. Why are bullies created?

    Because their victims allowed themselves to be bullied. Each and every time the bully gets away with their bullying, it will increase in the future and happen with no problem. Because in the past, he got what he wanted!

    The men and women in Egypt have learned that cutting lines WORK. If you want to get something done, you have to shove and be rude. Your post has a lot of symbolic meanings hidden behind the lines. Your post represent everything I loath about Egypt and why I can NEVER live in place where rules are made to be broken :(

    Good for you for standing up! I remember this happened to me 4 years ago when I last visited. A man shoved himself in front of me and I said "excuse me?" The cashier and the man mocked me and said "the ustaaz didn't want to stand behind you?" Like it's haraam or something to stand behind a woman veiled head to toe!

  8. CRAZY! The diagram really drove the point home.

  9. Organica, It's true people were blatantly telling their friends to just go to the front. I don't get the standing behind you thing, that's a lame ass excuse if I ever heard one.

    Umm Omar, lol, glad it was clear.

  10. Sounds mental! Do you ever pick up the habits?

    Before I wouldn't ever cut a queue or a line in my home country. Never. We just don't work that way.

    After waiting for microbuses and seeing people not caring about the fact I was there first, and running on before me despite the fact I'd been waiting 10 mins longer, I started just getting on them whenever they came along and there was a seat without considering who else was waiting unless it was a woman with a baby or something.

  11. Anonymous8:32 PM

    Hi :)!
    Of course it's wrong!!!I was laughing sarcasticly,because I saw it happen many times.In such cases one has to fight back,as you did.

  12. My blood was boiling reading this. There's nothing i hate more than line cutters.

    Unfortunately it's just this bad in Pakistan also. It's just the mentality - everyone thinks they are more important than everyone else.

  13. Jaz, I know, Jaz it absolutely wouldn't happen! I haven't succumb to the ways of the world here purely on principle.

    Jasmina, not that it worked but I'm glad I said something too.

    Abid, I get angry just thinking of it. It is arrogance, that's true.

  14. same thing happens in Lebanon....
    and your right about it not happening in the states..because the person would be embarrassed to the back of the line :)

  15. That is so annoying! good for you speaking up!
    But you know... crazy as it seems.. I still miss Egypt however bad it may be!

  16. Angie, I know, no one would even dare.

    Me, I don't doubt that you miss it...There are good things about Egypt. I should post about them more.

  17. Angie, I know, no one would even dare.

    Me, I don't doubt that you miss it...There are good things about Egypt. I should post about them more.

  18. A'salaamu alaikum. I've never commented but read your blog often. I was just in Ajman, UAE and let me tell you... culture shock for this Southern muslimah! People pushing, shoving, TOUCHING me. Gave me shivers and NOT the good kind. ;-) I was appalled at the lack of manners displayed. We would try to shop in the off-hours; it just wasn't worth it to me.

    Of course UAE is a conglomerate of all nationalities, cultures, religions, and ethnicities so there is no fingerpointing to be done there. Just a madhouse in general.

    Ma salaama.

  19. We saw little kids almost get trampled to death as people walked OVER them to get off the train in Egypt. A guy also couldn't get his suitcase because like 100 ppl stepped over it before he was able to wrestle it free. They couldn't get the concept of letting people get off before the new ones get on. And don't even remind me of the train bathrooms...

  20. Umm Aminah, Wow, I really thought it was more civilized there.

    Stacy aka Fahiima, omG that is horrible! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!?

  21. errr.

    i agree with the lady who said elbows get the message across.

    i only see at sales/warehouse sales in malaysia.

    and then i complain LOUDLY to the cashier and in such a way that implies "If you ring up that person's items, I am going to get YOU in trouble". That usually works.

    But really, never SEEN anything like that with my own eyes at a supermarket.

    Btw, loved your diagram. Made it so much clearer for me.

  22. Kit Pryde, Yea the cashier guy got frustrated more than once saying he wouldnt ring up people coming to the front but it was such a mass of people it was hard to tell who was in line and who wasn't. Thanks, I'm glad the diagram served it's purpose.

  23. wow!! you know this happens at the masjid A LOT! the older ladies are always telling people to skip ahead and line and doing it themselves... i find it amusing, but i can see how you'd be angry in this situation! that clerk deserves to be yelled at, lol.

  24. reminds me of my banking experience at the bank of alexandria at the kafr el sheikh branch...they had a numbered ticketing service there and still 100 others tried to jump the queue when it was my turn to be served...wished they had introduced online banking

  25. It happens here, just not on that scale!! So many people think that they are apparently more important than everyone else.

    I guess the cashier just didnt want to have to be a ring leader and risk their own safety?

    It is ridiculous though that they feel it is ok to behave that way.

  26. MJ, yea I kinda felt bad for the clerk but he should have stuck to his guns.

    Nur, wow how insane, and here I thought a number system would be easy.

    Khadra, How does it happen there? I want to know cause maybe I'm looking back with rose colored glasses?

  27. Haha, I love your diagram!

    But wow, that's scary, I wouldn't even be able to go into a store like that.

    Some woman cut in front of me in line, after I waited and waited and after these two women get behind me the cashier tells us that the line is over there. One of the women behind me races over and then she gives me these dirty smug looks. It made me really mad, my kids are crying and hungry and the cashier didn't even say anything. I was so mad. I kept glaring at them both. I should have said something, but, I didn't trust myself not to say something really bad...

  28. Oh dear ):

    I loved your diagram though...so funny.

  29. Melissa, I'll never go in there again when it's like that! Man, I guess the woman thought the line didn't count anymore after you switched lanes, rude!

    Ms. M, Thanks!

  30. Your red dot to green dot ratio isnt' high enough! :)

  31. Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo, Not enough red or green? Not many were actually in line. :)

  32. I have been in this very same market that Mona describes. It is absolutely the worst market I have found for this kind of behavior.

    Coming in second, is the one near my home (a Metro market).

    More registers in this one, 3 at the front, and one where they sell cigarettes. Line cutting is common in the front registers, but a total nightmare at the cigarette counter.

    I approached it one night, and there were 4 people in front of me. I waited. The first was an egyptian man, promptly served. The second was a russian woman, who was really more interested is flirting.. the clerk was happy to do just that. The third was a german woman who also spoke english. She was becoming frustrated as well.. as we both stood there waiting. In the midst of all this.. 3 more egyptian men pushed up to the counter, sticking money in the clerks face. He took their money, they left.

    By this time, I was seriously losing my cool. This is my neighborhood market, and most of the employees there know me as being intolerant of this kind of behavior.

    .. and yes, yet another man pushes his way up to the counter. I spoke up "Excuse me.. you need to wait". He started taunting me, saying he didnt have to wait, that I did. "I will not". To which he responded "Are you afraid?".. then came his big mistake.

    He not only touched me.. he grabbed and physically shoved me aside. The german woman had been watching this exchange. I turned around (still in place), looking for the manager (yes.. like I said.. they know me.. the troublemaker) to find 3 employees standing directly behind me.

    "Do you speak english?"
    "I want to pay at the front, but I need my cigarettes. I am tired of waiting while people cut in front of me"
    I pointed at what I wanted.. told them how many.. and one employee escorted me to the front and stood there making sure no one cut.

    Meanwhile, the other man managed to pay (infuriating the german woman who was still waiting.. and she finally objected rather loudly).

    A moment later.. the other 2 employees took the man by the arms and escorted him out, loudly telling him not to return. Even then.. as he went by.. he whispered "I still leave before you".

    I never had an issue with someone with 1 item.. ASKING me if they could go before me, but this.. this was totally infuriating not only to me, but to my husband when I had to tell him about it. He told me that next time, I should tell them to call the police. (for being assaulted by the man)

  33. woops.. my comment was apparently too large, and now its lost.

    I will try again tomorrow.. its late.

    I know this market Mona was in very well.. and have a horror story of my own about another market here in Hurghada. I guess I will either have to digest it down, or make more than one comment, LOL.

  34. Khadra, it did post! Older posts have to be approved cause of spam bots.

    I'm angry for you in that situation. I can NOT believe this man put his hands on you. In general the problem is people thinking rules don't apply to them and that the cashiers don't enforce the rules. But this guy was totally out of line and I can only imagine how angry and upset you must have been.


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