They Waited Longer But I Wanted It More

Lisbon

I’ve been traveling around Europe and Northern Africa for the past two months, going from culture to culture (6 countries this trip). I have been doing my best to stand back and not stick out as a huge American.

Today in Lisbon, Portugal I was waiting to order an espresso and did my usual anxious “stand in the back of the room and study how everyone else is doing it” way of ordering. I walked up to the counter and stumbled through my terrible Portuguese ordering a double Americano (seemingly everyone speaks English here, but it is a simple thing I try to do). An older woman came up around me and started ordering. Her daughter said, “Wait, he was here first” and she responded, “But I wanted it more.”

She got her coffee before me. I had a good laugh on the cultural differences of how we form lines in different cultures.

It got me thinking about life, though – how many people are waiting nicely in line, getting passed by people who want it more?

  • Moraima Caceres de Centeno

    Dear Andrew, you had been so fortunate to
    live you dream in your own way, that I definitely agrees with you aptitude to
    laugh about this lady way things…Way to go!

  • Randy Cantrell

    What a flash to the past, Andrew. I’d wait politely in line at the post/bank in Niger, W. Africa while serving in the Peace Corps, hoping to get my monthly “walk-around” allowance, and the locals would shoot right up around me, plop their demand (check) down for funds (which were always limited), and I would end up sitting there all day just to find out there were either no funds remaining or mine were last to be disbursed for the day (perhaps there were some cultural biases taking place here), but they didn’t realize I was digging wells and teaching their high schoolers advanced mathematics. Maybe they would have treated me a bit more accommodating if I wore an ID badge, but I wanted to feel the culture in its truest form, so I accepted this practice every month during the first year. Then I figured out the power of showing up with goro (cola) nuts to hand to the teller to give her a little “bump” that also served as a cultural show of acclimation on my part. Amazingly, my funds starting coming sooner and more regularly during my second year of service.

    –Randy Cantrell

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