Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Once More Unto The Breach
Back on the road again. I flew from New York (JFK) to Amman the other day on Royal Jordanian Airlines, an airline that I've taken before and like very much. Nonetheless the boarding gate at JFK was a scene of great amusement. As soon as the agent announced the boarding of the flight there was a bum-rush of people stampeding for the air-bridge. The disorganized throng of humanity completely overwhelmed the single, unsuspecting gate agent who was pleading for everyone to form a nice and orderly single line. I laughed to myself and mumbled, "Yea, that's gonna happen".
My experience has been that a lot of cultures don't "do lines" very well, and the Arabs are certainly one of them. There is no sense of chivalry, order, or fairness, just a pushing match to get in front of the old lady in front of you. Politeness is weakness, as a friend of mine once noted of the Arab culture.
On another occasion I let my guard down and permitted an old man being pushed in a wheel chair to go in front of me at the Immigration check point. What I didn't see was his extended family behind him that was accompanying Grandpa. Daughters, nieces, cousins, close friends, and a few strap hangers all cut the line exclaiming, "We're with him". I felt used and my fellow passengers behind me were none too happy with my chivalry either. Lesson learned.