The other day I was in line. It doesn’t matter where or what brand of rubber fist I was buying. The point is I was reminded of a major cultural difference between the United States and the Philippines I experienced while there.
While leaving the mall, Jenny and I got in line to grab a taxi to take us back to the hotel. We did this often with the line sizes varying each time. I’m someone who absolutely dreads having to wait in line for anything. I’ve stepped into stores and left because there was a line I couldn’t be bothered to stay in. Time is the most precious thing we have. I’m not about to wait in line behind someone who is going to waste mine. This past Saturday for instance, I was at the grocery store in the 12 items or less queue. The woman two people in front of me cracked 30 items. This was no language barrier. No matter what country you fell out of your mother in, 30 items is 30 items.
As Jenny and I got closer to the front spot in line, one which actually had a worker assisting others with grabbing taxis (a brand new concept to me), I noticed old people were lining up separately. The old folk were actually cutting ahead like they were New Yorkers at Six Flags Great Adventure. Well, to be technical, they weren’t line jumpers. These elderly people were forming their own organized line in an uprising against the young. This was actually a regular occurrence and not something unusual at all in the Philippines. Over there, old people get one line for taxis and the young get another.
Unlike the fast pass at an amusement park they don’t get to just butt ahead of everyone either. As the next taxi pulls up the turn goes back and forth between team young and team close to the grave. Since the line for the old is usually pretty short it’s not a huge problem. If anything, it’s a minor inconvenience that is bothersome due to the Philippines heat.
In the United States it’s a very dog-eat-dog world where old people are not given this courtesy. Sure, on trains we do give up our seats to the elderly, pregnant, and disabled or at least we’re supposed to. I never bother sitting on the train because I know eventually a 60-year-old pregnant woman with a club foot is going to get on. It’s just easier to remain standing rather than have to leave my seat behind. I don’t want to get too comfortable.
There’s also the whole idea of someone helping you get taxis. At the mall or any other establishment where they have someone assisting you with hailing a cab, the worker will give you a small card with the taxi’s license plate numbers just in case you have any complaints about them. As you’ve read previously on this blog, it’s hard to really have complaints when the driving style is on-par with a Road Warrior movie.
Old people aren’t as respected in the US as they should be. We think of them as the computer-illiterate, smelly things that remember the 1960s. Little things like actually having the common decency to allow them to get to where they’re going (usually Bingo or a funeral home to visit a friend) is something I’d like to see more of in my country. We’re pretty good about it, but I do think it’s a cultural issue where everyone in the US is trying to find an advantage. Just the other day I saw someone complaining on Twitter to the train service I use regarding the topic of people with disabilities deserving discounted tickets. I couldn’t agree less because in America everything is a disability now. Obesity, being sad, and bad haircuts could all get you a day off of work. We’re a little too babied which is why it’s a very “me” place to live and lines helping out old people really freak me out.