On a recent trip to Paris I walked into a bakery near my apartment in search of a baguette for breakfast. There were a few people scattered around the store, as if waiting for something – maybe an order they’d already paid for I thought. I was wrong.
As I headed toward the cash register to place my order people began to move --- toward the cash register, edging in front of me. No words were spoken, no cold glances, or throats cleared to let me know I’d put myself toward the front of the line instead of the back. But I had. It quickly became clear there WAS a line – a French line one of my (French) friends said. Clear as can be unless you’re a slightly jet lagged Californian.
My advice to travelers entering a store of any type in a country not yours – take a minute to look around before venturing toward a cashier. Even in Monoprix (a store similar to Target here in California) with defined lines set up with stanchions to guide customers toward the cashiers - that appear to set the order of who pays first -- there’s an organization that varies from what you’d find in the US. Look around before you pick your spot.
Who’s Next? Maybe you, maybe not. Be Patient. Your turn will come.