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Etiquette in a Store and Market Queues in Poland


BLS 65 | 188
16 Jun 2013  #1
I just returned from shopping at my local neighborhood Lidl, and I experienced a frustrating part of Polish life - somebody parked their shopping cart in a check-out aisle and went to pick up more stuff. Since there was plenty of space ahead of his cart, this shopper had obviously been gone for a few minutes - so, I jumped in front of the cart and placed my three items on the belt.

Soon thereafter, a guy (mid-20's) showed up and asked that I relinquish my place in the queue. I refused. A few words were exchanged, and he bumped me a few times with his shopping cart, but it didn't escalate into anything major. I'm sure he wasn't pleased, but it is my opinion that the guy left the queue. I understand the opposing viewpoint - he was arguably there first - but I believe my point is equally valid (if not more so).

I have lived in Poland for nearly 5 years and have never done this before, but this apparent lack of consideration for others is starting to annoy me. Is anyone else frustrated with such 'traditions' in Poland? I am also growing weary of the person who jumps into a newly-opened check-out lane and invites his/her friend(s) to cut in line ahead of everyone else (and they always seem to have separate orders). These are typically young people who are doing this, so I don't believe Communism is to blame here - just a lack of courtesy and consideration of others. I plan to start voicing my displeasure when this happens in the future.

Opinions?
jon357 63 | 14,110
16 Jun 2013  #2
There are some very rude people indeed here, but the majority aren't. Many people though don't really understand how to behave in the presence of others and a surprising number of people here are amazingly easily offended. Just ignore such people.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
16 Jun 2013  #3
he bumped me a few times with his shopping cart

lol...
jon357 63 | 14,110
16 Jun 2013  #4
Do you often laugh out loud when people ram shopping trolleys into other people?
jon357 63 | 14,110
16 Jun 2013  #6
Your life must be really empty. Do you also stand on road bridges and wave at passing drivers?
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
16 Jun 2013  #7
I have lived in Poland for nearly 5 years and have never done this before. I plan to start voicing my displeasure when this happens in the future.Opinions?

You are correct...unfortunately.
Poles, or at least a good many of them, seem to genuinely thrive on creating as much disorder and disarray as possible within any and all situations.

There's always a few retards who can't seem to work out the workings of a foot path in the park -majority travel on the right? Well I guess that's their queue to travel on their left.

You gotta pick your battles with these kind of things but it sounds like you did well.
jon357 63 | 14,110
16 Jun 2013  #8
Yes. You've hit the nail on the head with this one. Being deliberately argumentative and awkward isn't always seen as such bad behaviour here in Eastern Europe. Also, I notice many people seem to wander around in a world of their own. Road traffic, where people don't really anticipate what other drivers are doing and also try to squeeze themselves ahead whether it's worth doing so or not is a good example.

Another is public transport, where people try to push on trams and buses regardless of whether people have got off or not, standing at the stop right in front of the bus/tram door expecting people to squeeze round them and then standing during the journey in the doorway and then looking surprised when people want to get off.

The escalators on the Warsaw Metro are also a good example, when a small number of passengers don't notice that people are standing on one side and walking on the other so just stop dead with a huge line of frustrated people behind them.
Ant63 11 | 403
16 Jun 2013  #9
Driving must shorten Polish citizens life expectancy every time they turn the ignition key. The kur*a monster is born.
OP BLS 65 | 188
16 Jun 2013  #10
So why don't other Poles complain about such behavior? I have rarely heard anyone chastise such inconsiderate behavior. A few months ago, some drunk dumbass desperately wanted to get on a bus I was on. Even though the bus was packed, he held the door to prevent it from closing (the driver tried 4 times) before finally managing to squeeze inside. What was stupid is this - there was another bus waiting at the stop directly behind us, and he disembarked at the VERY NEXT STOP!

As an outspoken Westerner, I raised my voice towards him a few times while he delayed our bus, but nobody joined in. The other passengers seemed completely oblivious to what was happening - the only reaction I heard was chuckling from a couple of young girls after I called the guy a dupek.

Polish people seem very much like sheep at zebra crossings - if one person crosses when the light is red, many (if not most) of the others generally follow suit. I was disappointed that nobody followed my lead on the bus that day.
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
16 Jun 2013  #11
^ It's almost like there's a different culture or something here....

that being said, people taking the p*ss are doing just that and why people tolerate that is one of those things that I just haven't worked out yet. Oh well.
Ant63 11 | 403
16 Jun 2013  #12
So why don't other Poles complain about such behavior?

They wear blinkers
delphiandomine 83 | 17,596
16 Jun 2013  #13
So why don't other Poles complain about such behavior? I have rarely heard anyone chastise such inconsiderate behavior

Communism. People kept themselves to themselves.

Driving must shorten Polish citizens life expectancy every time they turn the ignition key. The kur*a monster is born.

I dunno, I like it. But this is probably more to do with not having to worry about speed cameras and so on.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
16 Jun 2013  #14
Dzień Świra - Sklep
jon357 63 | 14,110
16 Jun 2013  #15
Communism. People kept themselves to themselves.

That's certainly part of the story, however I suspect that extreme situations merely increase traits that are already there. Georg Mikes who last visited in (I think) 1938 remarks on the strange behaviour of Poles on public transport, especially the miserable and 'elsewhere' expressions on their faces.

What was stupid is this - there was another bus waiting at the stop directly behind us, and he disembarked at the VERY NEXT STOP!

Something I've often noticed but never figured out. When there are two or three buses pulling into the same stop at about the same time and going to the same destination as often happens in big cities, they all pile on the first bus which is full to bursting while the other two are empty. No logic in that at all.
Ironside 47 | 9,622
17 Jun 2013  #16
I noticed in Poland something I have never seen before, some individuals walking like there is no tomorrow without regard to other pedestrians, like zombies really. People under 25, strange.

standing at the stop right in front of the bus/tram door expecting people to squeeze round them and then standing during the journey in the doorway and then looking surprised when people want to get off.

I witnessed such encounter between people standing in the doorways and frustrated Englishman. Prepshiam, prepashiam ......... and then - for **** sake will you let me out?
jon357 63 | 14,110
17 Jun 2013  #17
Much easier to pronounce it correctly. And then you can always barge, Polish-style, on your way if they still behave badly. Not sure what you mean about English people though. Any civilised person would be annoyed at such crass behaviour.
Ironside 47 | 9,622
17 Jun 2013  #18
Not sure what you mean about English people though.

What English people? I related what I have witnessed.
jon357 63 | 14,110
17 Jun 2013  #19
The one you mentioned. Aside from the fact that I very much doubt you checked his passport, would you blame him for being frustrated by bad behaviour?
Ironside 47 | 9,622
17 Jun 2013  #20
I mean he was English unless he was faking it for a reason unknown. Secondly I have posted what I have seen and heard.
Where did you find accusation or judgement?
Not in my post.
jon357 63 | 14,110
17 Jun 2013  #21
Did you ask him about his nationality? Not that nationality is relevant to anything at all. Sounds like he acted fairly sensibly.
Ironside 47 | 9,622
17 Jun 2013  #22
Did you ask him about his nationality?

No I didn't. I did recognize his accent however. Why are you asking? Are you implying that Englishman wouldn't swear in public?

. Sounds like he acted fairly sensibly.

I can understand his frustration.
jon357 63 | 14,110
17 Jun 2013  #23
I understand his frustration too. Be careful about making assumptions based on people's accent though. They can often be wrong.
Ironside 47 | 9,622
17 Jun 2013  #24
Be careful about making assumptions based on people's accent though. They can often be wrong.

Did it happen to you?I'm asking because I'm certain that he was English.
jon357 63 | 14,110
17 Jun 2013  #25
Almost never, but it's happened.

The level of judgement (and English) in many of your posts gives a clue to your nous in this matter.
Jardinero 1 | 394
17 Jun 2013  #26
Sadly, I can only agree with the posters here. In addition to the frequent queue cutting, disorganisation, and lack of respect for others in public, my other top gripes would be:

- Lack of change when paying cash. I don't know why it is, but I cannot remember a day without this being an issue at least once. This simply does not happen in countries such as the UK/US.

- Blatant disregard for traffic rules such as speed limits, no passing zones, etc, and lack of courtesy combined with low level of safety awareness displayed by drivers. This obviously goes beyond plain irritation in situation when you feel your life is in jeopardy.

Not so sure that years of communism are to blame here. I observe the exact same behaviour on buses/subways daily in NYC in the 'less privileged' parts - lots of tired/indifferent stares.
OP BLS 65 | 188
17 Jun 2013  #27
some individuals walking like there is no tomorrow without regard to other pedestrians

After returning by train to Krakow a while back, I was walking in the tunnel that exits the station. I noticed a young woman (talking on her mobile, of course) walking directly towards me in the manner you described. I continued my path and actually allowed her to bump into me. The look on her face was priceless - she was so upset that I didn't move out of her way. To be honest, I don't think she even saw me before "I" ran into "her."

I believe this is how we from the West have been taught to act in public - by being chastised and browbeaten by strangers when we mess up. Perhaps more people in Poland need to speak up in such situations to affect change here. If Poles won't or can't, perhaps we outsiders can provide a valuable service to society by standing our ground in such cases mentioned in this thread. Sometimes I discuss this concept with my students - the majority of them agree with me! However, a few consider this to be presumptuous - opinions?
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
17 Jun 2013  #28
opinions?

I've done very similar tests over many years here. This behavior puzzles me and I just don't know or don't understand where it comes from. But there is a sizeable portion of the population here that do NOT in anyway shape or demonstrable form seem to take others into account when they do their thing -really unfit people for a healthy society imo.

One part of me realizes that inconsideration and a lack of awareness of those around you IS a bad indicator on a person but on the other hand that seems to be a constant here so there must be a good reason for it.

I really don't know if people here actually like that kind of behavior but why would they? Perhaps, Poles consider it beneath them to react to the plethora of inconsideration, boorishness and general dipsh*tery that goes on display in Polish society.

From a societal and psychological perspective, I find the phenomenon fascinating from a perspective of "How-much-dysfunction can a society tolerate?"
OP BLS 65 | 188
17 Jun 2013  #29
Perhaps, Poles consider it beneath them to react to the plethora of inconsideration, boorishness and general dipsh*tery that goes on display in Polish society.

One of my students told me that she considered my behavior to be more rude than the young woman's at the train station. She told me it would have been easier and more polite to simply move out of the woman's way and let her pass unobstructed. I understand her point, but my instincts told me to obstruct. I have only done this a handful of times during my 5 years here, so it's not like I do it every day - I seem to save it for "special" occasions :-)

I must have learned this response somewhere. I hypothesize that I learned it from other passersby when I was inconsiderate or acted the fool during my youth.
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
17 Jun 2013  #30
I must have learned this response somewhere. I hypothesize that I learned it from other passersby when I was inconsiderate or acted the fool during my youth.

I know I learned some lessons that way; )

To be completely honest though, I do very similar things, I will avoid getting out of someone's way to the extent they attempt not to get in my way. After watching enough videos on Russian drivers, I'm wondering if there isn't something going on with peripheral vision among Slavic people.

On a somewhat contradictory and related point: one of my colleagues told me he's asked a few of the co-workers in his department if they are self-observant/self-critical. They laughed at the idea that anyone would even question one's own actions.

It would explain the "my sh*t don't stink" attitude I've seen among a segment of the population where I live. There's a combination of things at play with different people but this is all a digression.

Suffice to say, the approach towards conducting oneself in public seems to be different here in many ways and that's just how it is.


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