We Finns stand in line like professionals. Patient folk, they say. But is it because we are patient or because we are too afraid of the other people to say something, even if we have to wait in queue for a doctors office for four hours?

To be fair, waiting at the doctors is not really standing in line. You just get a waiting number, unless you get there right before it opens, then you might have to stand in line for the fancy machine that gives out numbers, and sit and get annoyed for hours waiting your turn. Too afraid to go pee because you might get called in next. You of course don’t, and you really had to pee for the last hour and a half. Then when you finally get called in you sneeze on the way in and pee a little, because you’re not that young anymore…

Queues! Stand in orderly line. Queue for a bus, and at the store, and those lines are super long because you need to have and give personal space. We stand in line for taxis, even taxis wait in line for their turn, for lunch, to go to the bathroom. Anyone who ever had to use the ladies bathroom friday night at a local watering hole knows the pain. Some of the braver souls actually cheat and use the mens toilet, but this happens very rarely. We will rather pee in our pants than skip the line and risk the glares of other patrons. We get really good at holding it in even when we are too drunk to stand up straight.

People in Finland will stand in line for hours before the sun gets up in 32 degrees Fahrenheit weather, just for a free bucket. Or something else for free. Don’t do the math on how much money our time would be, it’s always way more than the 2 euro bucket. But free is free. And a good deal is a good deal, so if a shop promises a cell phone for 50 % off for the first 100 customers, you can be sure there’s a line of 300 people two hours before the store opens.

Also we all know the rules of standing in line. No messing around. No cutting in line, no standing too close to others, no talking to people you don’t know, no looking at people you don’t know. No looking at people you know either, if you’re not currently with them. Maybe even if you’re with them if you’re not too close, or especially when you’re too close, personal space, people! No smoking in line, but if someone does smoke, suck it up (not literally, second hand smoking is bad for you), no minding other people’s businesses.

And if someone doesn’t follow the rules of standing in line, you get to give them a dirty look, but only when they don’t see you do it.

— Editors

The writer of this story is a member of the Mom of Finland community.


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