Monday, October 12, 2009

Patience is a virtue

It feels good to be home. Yes, the chickens started crowing at 3:00am, and yes I’ve banged my head twice getting into a miniature taxi, and yes we stood in line over one hour at the bank to pay the fee to renew my permanent resident card, but it still feels good to be home.

And speaking of lines, Peru has taught me to be patient. In fact I enjoy standing in line at the banks. It’s like watching a drama/comedy series on TV. The lines usually extend several hundred feet outside the bank. Vendors of water, nuts, candy, document folders and other assorted items walk up and down the line trying to sell their wares to people who have been shuffling slowly forward for a minimum of 30 minutes and as long as 2 hours. Document folders used to cover the head from the hot sun are big sellers. Some entrepreneurs will offer to stand in line for you for a flat rate based on the length of the line. Others will offer to runs errands for you while you stand in line.

The real fun begins when people try to jump the line, which is an every minute occurrence. As the “jumper” pleads their case to the police at the door, the crowd begins to chant “A la cola!” which means “to the line.” If the jumper persists in arguing with the police, who are amazingly patient in my opinion, the chant gets louder and the crowd mood becomes threatening. Occasionally the jumper will turn and confront/challenge the crowd, which only results in a louder chant and a more hostile atmosphere. This is when it gets interesting. I have never seen it but have been told and do not doubt that crowds have attacked jumpers. I also suspect the police would delay a bit before intervening. Not that I would even consider it, but I have often wondered what would happen if I, an older gringo would try to jump the line. I tend to think the crowd would assume I had some special business and would not react at first, waiting to see what the police would do, but I’m not about to test that theory. A la Cola!


1 comment:

  1. Ha, ha, ha,ha....You made me laugh. I thought that long lines had mostly dissapeared; not at The Nation's Bank, that also paid teachers and runs most government affairs with money. I do not say now, but before, the line "jumpers" were hard skinned people that do not respect others. From other side, jumpers were people with "influence" that did not like the line suffering like the commoners. Sometimes the policeman is convinced that he can decide about breaking the rules of the game of lines; or he is to be bribed, or ... Rules tend to bend once in a while. Better you take it by the funny side...and you did it.