3.22.2011

step down


In Arizona when you are in line and you are summoned by the person behind the desk, no matter where you are, the person will almost always say "next person in line". It usually has a 'please' attached to it. And a smile with eye contact.
In New York no matter where you are, when you are in a line and it's your turn there is no eye contact, no smile and the person says STEP DOWN. I will never forget the first time I heard it. I looked around for stairs and wondered who the person at the post office was shouting at. It was me, she was shouting at me. It was my turn to buy stamps. And she was pissed I was taking so long. The shouting got louder.
Apparently I wasn't paying attention when the 30 people before me in line responded to the 'step down'.
For review: you wait in a line, someone yells STEP DOWN! and as fast as you jump into double dutch jump ropes you better scurry over to get yours stamps or you might lose your place in line.
It's like that at the bank, the the pizza shop, the sub shop, retail stores, everywhere. It never felt regular. But I figured out the lingo.

I learned it was not rude, it was the fast and only way to work through a line of a lot of people and get to business. It's the culture. It's not wrong, it's just the way it is there.
It feels good to be friendly again and to converse sweetly and find my friendly stranger smile. Not a creepy one, just a real one. Like the younger me. The me before responsibilty and life settled into my bones.
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