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20-40-60 Etiquette---No cuts!

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To ask an etiquette question, email Helen at hfsok@aol.com

YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!

By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: My family and I have traveled extensively. We have observed an interesting phenomenon: that some people feel no regard for lines. At the airport, we experienced complete disregard for equality and order. Recently at an immigration checkpoint, a family of four that was on our flight stood ahead of us.

Then their friends arrived on another flight and joined the back of the line. Initially, these two groups were separated by 200 people. Before we knew it, the new arrivals cut the line. Notably, people were upset by this etiquette slight since we had already waited an hour. Most people were too polite to dispute their activities or question their behavior.

Is there a gracious way to educate these people? Or is it better to just chalk it up to bad manners and move forward?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Chalk this up to bad manners or that they were on a time constraint. Either way, don't let other people's actions upset you; enjoy your vacation!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: We can all join you in a collective lament about line-jumpers, since it has happened to all of us at one time or another. And joining you in your frustration might be all we can do to make the problem a little easier to bear.

Sometimes the rudeness is overt and obvious; other times it's more subtle, where it appears in the form of joining friends in a friendly conversation, like what you observed.

People spend a lot of time calculating how to get out of lines, whether they're stuck in traffic on a highway or waiting on a movie or at the airport. And it's extremely frustrating to the majority who try to observe the line rules and etiquette.

You can gently point out the fact that the line is long and you have been waiting, hoping these people are decent people and will understand.

Or you can let it go. I've never seen an easy way to police this issue without the crowd coming together as a whole to shame the one person who did it.

But I've also found that people are more willing to either 1) let you jump in with your friends in line in extenuating circumstances or 2) go to the back of the line when they are in the wrong, if you communicate with them nicely.

Overall, most people are trying to do the right thing, but we all have tales of those obnoxious people whose behavior overshadows the majority.

HELEN'S ANSWER: It is definitely bad manners to cut in line, and most people will call you out on it. If you just go up to talk to your friends at the head of the line, remember to have someone stay behind to save you a place.

At the immigration line, after everyone had been waiting an hour, it seems like someone should have reminded the friends that others had been waiting longer.

In any case, if you decided to "let this one go" and did not confront the offender, you remembered that some battles are easier than others and that people make honest mistakes. They might have just joined in while talking and forgot they did not belong there.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Chuck Ainsworth, local business and civic leader: Cutting in line has been a "blood sport" in many European countries for years. In France there is even a name for it -- "resquillage" or "taking the risk." The practice has clearly taken a leap over the pond to our fair people with rude behavior ever on the rise.

You should carefully judge the situation to determine what course of action is most appropriate.

In some cases the cut could be a mere oversight, with a gentle reminder well taken. In more aggressive situations, the result could get you involved in an altercation you are not equipped to handle.

So, unless you are a Navy Seal, be very careful before you inform people they are clearly "out of line."

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

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