2. Never Forming Lines

Call them lines, call them queues – it makes no difference.  Egyptians are physically unable to form and stand in straight lines, no matter where they are.  You’d think that with the cramped conditions the majority of the population lives in, they’d be interested in an organized system of standing, but you’d be wrong.  Whether Egyptians crowd around trying to procure official documents, storm a bakery for bread, or simply pass through passport control at the airport, they’re certain to make a cluster out of the situation.

Lines just make sense.  No one has to touch each other, you don’t have to hide personal information from the nosy woman to your left, you don’t have to pop your collar to ward off the breath of the person who may as well be standing on top of you.  But Egyptians like to make sure roughly 80% of their body is on someone else and that their right arm is just THAT MUCH farther forward than the next person so as to prove they were there first.

Not so much in an attempt to create order, but more so out of traditional and societal mores, one can often find male and female queues.  These lines tend to be just as disorderly, as women will elbow their way to the front of male lines and demand immediate service so as to not have to stand next to men for extended periods of time.  While women do tend to receive prompt service in these lines, men’s frustrations are fueled and greater chaos ensues.  Well-off Egyptians may also send their minions to queue for them, creating even more chaos as minions push to the front of the line in order to finish their business quickly.

Reasoning with Egyptians who don’t stand in line is pointless, too.  An Egyptian will always have an excuse as to why lines need to be fourteen people wide and two people deep.  No attempt should be made to explain to Egyptians why standing in a line is beneficial to them.  Egyptians will call the line-supporter anti-Egyptian, khawaga, or ‘GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY.’


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