Friday, 22 November 2013
I'm not sure about this country I've moved to. Yesterday I went to the Post Office, walked up to the till and was told to go to the back of the queue. I looked behind me and there was an old lady stood about three miles behind me, who apparently was waiting in line.
I'd actually said to her 'Excuse me' because I thought she was just looking at the magazines and in a very British, idiotic way she had just moved out of the way for me and watched as I bounded up to the free window.
When I apologised and tried to laugh it off, she looked outraged and said something about being in the queue. Why bother being so British about me pushing in, to then be so very un-British?? I don't mind her kicking off, but why bother being such a doormat in the first place if you're then going to chastise people for pushing in? The British way is to shake your head violently and say, "No no it's all right, it's my fault, it's fine, please, I should be saying sorry to you," even if someone has suck up behind you in a field and kicked you up the bum, really hard, for no reason.
Why was the start of the queue so far back anyway? What confidential things to they think go on in the post office?
"So you're sending this to Zimbabwe?"
"Shhh! Her from down the road's over there looking at envelopes! Please keep your voice down. I'm sending a Christmas card to Robert Mugabe. I know what you're thinking but he sends me one every year, without fail."
I might have been feeling a bit 'hormonal' but I suddenly felt my throat go all tight, like I was going to cry. There were two lovely old German ladies now behind me in the queue wearing headscarves and boots and looking like they'd stepped out of a wooden etching. (Or do I mean wood etching? Discuss.)
"Don't worry," the one nearest to me said, "Queing is a 'holy cow' in England!"
"I know!" I said, "Why is the queue so far away?"
"You will get used to it." she smiled.
Ha! Living in France has turned me into a European!*
I felt smug and changed and sophisticated. No more would I be an awkward, British type of FOOL who queues up for no reason and who is too scared to tell the man at the next table that his chair leg is on the end of the coat.
"No, no. Don't want to bother him. We'll just stay 'til he goes. We'll probably miss the film, but... can't be helped. Oh, he's moving it... Ow. Now it's on my foot. Never mind. Don't want to cause a fuss."
When I got to the till, I asked her if I could buy a book of stamps with my card, as I hadn't walked past a cash machine. Really I only needed one stamp, to post a letter to my gran, but I felt cheeky asking to pay for one stamp with my card.
"Yes of course, how many do you want? Twelve?"
"Yes," I said.
In my head I was panicking, I didn't want twelve! I wanted six.
The stamps came to £7.20 and instead of running away, I put my card in the machine and bought them. That's £7.20 that was supposed to be going towards my tube fare next week. And I just spent it on stamps that I didn't want, like a bad idiot.
Yep. Not sure about this country AT ALL.
*I know American thinks English people are European but that is ridiculous- we may be on the same continent but we Europeans drink espressos outside cafes after 5pm and they don't crawl along the streets with their arses hanging out, being sick and crying.