Just One…

Queues.. lines.. what do they signify in Sri Lanka?  Ohhh those who have nothing to do have to wait patiently for their turn while others can barge in ahead of them.

Whether at the bank or the ATM or the grocery store or even your local fast food joints.. hey it doesn’t matter… The one who feels that they deserve to push ahead – just one item,  just one minute…. are the ones that are served too..

Yes yes, it’s not just the customers who think they are the only ones in a rush or have a lot to do… or have just one item to purchase.. the one offering the service does the same too!  Yup.. the hand that can stretch out knocking off other people’s ears or banging on heads.. the ones that can stretch out the longest – you have the WINNER.

Courtesy.. patience – those are for losers….

Their ‘just one’ item is far more important than your just one item..

Their ‘just one’ minute is far more valuable than yours…

Try to be polite and thoughtful, you will just have others doing the same and you can just continue to be pasted there.

I am learning to be thick and say NO..

Today even after I reminded the lady – no that’s giving her undue respect – that I was in the queue ahead of her, she was amused and as soon as the next customer assistant came free, she handed over a piece of paper.. That guy also took it – and I was right in between the two of these people with cash in my hand.  I became firm and told the assistant off.. The one who was bull dozing her way through tried to justify it saying JUST ONE ITEM.  I responded saying ” Me too – and here is the exact change.. and I was here first .. serve me first…”.  Interestingly for a change, the guy obliged…

But is this is a rare occurence?

Well no, I have had to speak up loud and firmly during every errand I have run these last few weeks – I’m kidding you not.

Peoples’ bank automated machine teller, NDB bank branch, Vasantham store, Pilawoos Food joint.. the list goes on.

After the above incident with the female bull dozer (whom I did tell off straight to her face before jumping into the trishaw with its clocking metre) I headed to the Keells grocery store.  While I was waiting my turn in the queue, a man stood behind me way too close for comfort.  I looked at him making it clear that I didn’t appreciate the closing in of personal space.. but no, they are too thick to understand.  I began to place my items on the counter while the previous customer was wrapping up.  He quickly poked his head and asked him whether he could go first as he has only 2 items.  I told him – and it was the truth – that my trishaw driver was waiting and in a hurry to pick up his daughter.  Little did he know that I had cut my shopping trip short to accommodate the driver.

It’s bad enough that I’m recovering from a bad back.. and that’s why I had to take a trishaw despite the cost in the first place.  It’s bad enough that I have to juggle carrying my heavy items.. and stand waiting myself..

Oh the joys of looking an insignificant young foreigner in this land of all important people!!

Daily struggles of wanting to be the person of manners the way my mother taught me to be.. and I end up having to be the one with the big mouth to be able to secure my TURN instead of letting the JUST ONE song singers bull doze ahead.

So yes.. if you are travelling to Sri Lanka, try to take off your hat of manners and looking out for one another.. You sometimes have to be thick skinned if you want to get your turn and not waste your time..

People love to take advantage of the foreigner – they are meant to be exploited.. and to take advantage of the one who is patient and friendly…



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