Culture clash #2 – queuing

I always thought we Germans queue a lot: At airports you can be sure that the first Germans are already queuing at the gate an hour before boarding. And we are really patient in waiting but nothing compared to Swedes. Swedes brought queuing and patience to profession: Nobody from Sweden would ever try to jump a queue and thanks to “Nummerlapp” this is not even possible. Nummerlapp is a piece of paper with your waiting number, which you pick from a machine. Sweden queue in banks, municipality offices, in stores, at information desks, almost everywhere. This is a fair treatment, but if you e.g. just need to drop something or want to buy a charger in a mobile phone shop and have to wait almost an hour since the other customers need advice it can be really frustrating too.

And even if you don´t have to pick a number you are expected to wait patiently. I have experienced that Swedes are much more relaxed than me when it comes to get things done. The German in me exploded in anger when I was told to come back another day since “I have too much to do today” even though I could see that this person was chatting on Facebook. Exploding will result in the opposite from what I experienced in Germany. The Swede will stay cool and calm as usual and you will just double your waiting time. So just try to be Swedish, accept it and come back the next day, there is no way to make a Swede work faster, it is just a waste of energy.

Actually, there is one place where Swedes are not queuing and even exercise some form of “anarchy “: bus stops and train stations. Here it seems to be the rule: who comes first gets first, which results in bunches of people trying to get into the train all at the same time. But otherwise, stay in line and wait until it is your turn!

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