Some people (yes, thank you dear!) would say I’ve become a little more refined. Not quite so ‘Kiwi country cousin’. I’ve learnt to shine a little less, and not bound up to strangers to say ‘hello’, like a Labrador on heat. I’ve learnt to curl the lip, and walk on by.
I’ve learnt many other things too. Brollies are not carried for unseasonable weather, they’re useful in making space in a crowded train carriage; the right side of the escalator is for standing and the left is for bounding down; and one must flash one’s headlights to acknowledge when another driver has given you right of way. I have learnt many more finer points of English etiquette besides, but on Saturday I made the one, Big Mumma of a faux pas.
Oh yes, hell has a special gate for the likes of me. I didn’t entirely mean to, it just sort of happened…like ..this..
My Englishman and I were at The Tate Modern and decided we would grab some tickets for the Damian Hirst exhibition, so we followed the crowds to the ticket counter. It was a civilised set up. They had those elasticated ropes winding a path to the counter.
I’ve always wondered about the logic of that. Is anyone taken in by the long and winding path? Do we really believe queuing around corners will help keep us calm, in the holding pattern? I think, they’d be a lot better off providing entertainment. A couple of buskers. Or two. Maybe even some nibbles, glass or three of Prosecco…
It was an organised, civilised set up, and I think that’s what flumoxed me. There were two counters open, so I obviously (no flies on me) went for the one with the shorter queue. Only me, mind you, my Englishman had the good sense to stand by as if all was well.
He. watched. me. commit. social. suicide.
Before long I had reached the counter. But something was amiss. Oh no, call the engines, fire, fire…An apoplectic woman with a furious bob was flapping.
“This woman was in the wrong queue!” She blustered.
“She mistakenly thought this was the pick up ticket queue.” Well stone the crows Sheila!
She glared the point home. I turned red and shrank a little. I’m only 5 1 and a 1/2 inch, so after shrinking with embarrassment I found it difficult to look over the counter.
I smiled apologetically at the other woman, with a smile that is internationally recognised code for ‘Uh oh, I f-ked up please help!’
“Oh never mind,” the nice woman, who had obviously graduated cum laude from her Jubilee year ‘be-nice-to-tourist’ classes, placated.
It was not smart. It was not clever. But then I did something really rather wrong. I dug deep for my good old Kiwi accent (it was lying discarded on the bedroom floor of my subconscious) and sheepishly said;
“Oh dee-uh. Suh-ree abt thit. Too-rists eh?” The Asian woman behind growled her discontent (‘But we’ve been waiting for ages!’)
I know. There’s a special gate in hell for people like me.
Question is, will that gate have a queue, too?
Image: Flickr CC Olly247