I’ve done something I never dreamed I would do, something I’ve grumbled and blogged about. I learnt my lesson on “never say never in this country, but as these innocuous sounding words slipped out of my lips, I too was in disbelief.

It happened in the most pedestrian of places, the Albert Heijn. I was waiting in line at the paracetamol/cigarettes/shavers/post/randomness counter (you know the one!). Weighed down by an active 1.5 year old, a bag of groceries, and 2 parcels to ship as gifts to the other side of the world – a Dutch person casually sauntered into the store, glanced at the existing line of customers waiting on the 15-year-old to figure out the Dutch postal system, and nonchalantly proceeded to walk up to the counter and place their order. There was clearly a line of customers in sight, and clearly others were waiting (and waiting) patiently to be served. But apparently it did NOT matter.

This was no accidental case of ‘overlooking’ the line. I had seen it happen time and time again, but today was different. Today I was hot and tired, and baby was even more hot and tired and together we weren’t the loveliest of duos. And so, loudly, and brimming with 9 years of ‘why-the-heck-can-you-people-not-learn-to-wait-your-turn’ angst, a little Dutch word escaped my lips.


The perpetrator’s head snapped back to look at me immediately. But apparently I wasn’t stopping there, as I followed up with a loud “doe eens normaal!!” .

I suppose it could be seen as completing some imaginary level of Dutch integration. The Dutch phrase escaped my lips even before I had time to think about my response (let alone the language would be in). No other English or Dutch phrase could have said it better. What did this signify? I’d always laughed at the associations of that culturally ingrained Dutch phrase. Just who defined this set definition of normal?? Was I now on the path of becoming one of them? 😉

It must be said: Dutch people have an utter disregard for lines, queuing and generally waiting their turn. When I was fresh-off-the-boat it used to drive me utterly mad. Venturing into the city was an exhausting pursuit: my lack of language skills coupled with Dutch people’s lack of queuing-manners used to make my blood boil. Where were the manners? Where was the civility? Had Dutch people somehow missed that basic childhood lesson of not cutting in line!

Apparently, Dutchies can be obedient little queueing masters when a new Abercrombie & Fitch store opens in Amsterdam!

Apparently, Dutchies can be obedient little queuing masters when a new Abercrombie & Fitch store opens in Amsterdam!

But it wasn’t just me. Over the years I’ve heard loads of other foreign friends, visitors and tourists equally irate when discussing he matter. I remember a good Aussie friend of mine describing her daily commute from Utrecht to Amsterdam each morning. When boarding and exiting each train, bus and metro she encountered a mad stampede of line cutting, pushing and elbows. Exasperated one evening over drinks she proclaimed. “I can’t do it anymore. I feel my blood pressure rising every morning in this country. It’s like boarding the train with effing animals!”

Over the past decade, I’ve seen some progress in the Dutch domain of queuing… or at least I believe I have.  Sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp on my own cultural evolution and that of the Dutchies. Had they really gotten better at queuing or had I just become more tolerant of the chaos? Had they changed, or had I?

One thing is for sure , I can’t say I really notice it that much any more – apart from the odd harried day at Albert Hein when my Canadian roots take hold and oddly, shout out in Dutch.

p.s. perhaps this video should be mandatory viewing? 😉

♫ ♫ “You gotta wait your turn. You gotta wait your turn. It’s only fair to wait right there! No cuts, no butts, no coconuts!” ♫ ♫ 

95 Responses

  1. Frank Langeveld

    Loved this story. I saw the disciplined queuing when visiting England and suggested they make an export article of it. But I also agree there is some improvement. And room for more.

  2. zmooc

    I believe the Dutch bad queuing habits originate with Bakker Bart (Bakery Bart, very popular and found in most Dutch cities). Scientific research had shown that customers would be served much faster and more efficient if they didn’t queue but instead would stand next to each other, using the full length of the counter. Thus, Bakker Bart eradicated the queue; they hung up signs to explain to customers why queues suck and gone was the queue. While not as obviously fair as a lengthy but inefficient queue, in the end it did really work; people waiting would self-organise and the end-result would be pretty fair. Also, the picked-the-wrong-queue-problem no longer existed. Now, thanks to Bakker Bart, we all know that queues are inefficient; they exist solely in situations were people trust each other so little that they need a social construct like the queue to make sure they’re served in the right order. The Bakker Bart approach has quickly spread throughout the country, sometimes causing rather odd situations and leaving room for the occasional idiot that doesn’t know how to behave if for some reason nobody understands, people start forming a very unscientific queue:p

    Sometimes when I’m in a queue abroad, the inefficient herd-like behavior of the queuing homo sapiens makes _my_ blood boil.

    • Karel

      I never saw a queue in any local butcher, bakery or any such place before Bakker Bart even existed. Normally, the lady or gentleman behind the counter just asks who is next and you shout or raise your hand and start ordering right away. Works fine. That way you can see the goods for sale. Better than waiting until you are in the front of the line and starting to look around, then. That’s indeed super-inefficient. I think it’s really dumb when Americans think I’m skipping a line when I am in fact just going to the counter to see what it is that I want to order later when I get to the front of the line.

      • Angela

        How are you suppose to be able to see anything if you have to shout and hold up your hand once it is your turn. I never seen anyone get mad if one is pnly looking at the products, however FYI unlike the rushed sales tactics in NL when it is your turn you can take all the time you need to look and ask questions. In addition you you want to look it is polite also to look first and then take your place in line if you intend to take a long time.

      • Stella

        O no, surely not. The numberslips came while it didn’t work well with asking “Wie is er aan de beurt?”. I remember as a child there was a shop where we had to be daily (out of school), which was allways brimfull and we couldn’t oversee surely who were before us and who after us and waited extreme long, seeing many of the after-uses took a turn which was not theirs . Once we waited and waited and never go a turn, so we went home without the vegetables. Then my mother angrily telephoned to the shop and we were helped. She was not the only reclaiming customer. After a short time the numbers appeared. It took much time for most shops had the numbers. And I’m talking about the sixties. Those days I stayed in Rotterdam and wondered about the big brimfull bakery. Luckely they had the numberslips too.

      • Stella

        Angela, going to the frontside to look and choose already was common use and is not saying it’s your turn now. But it made it more difficult to oversee the sequence of customers before you and after you.

      • Adam

        Unknown yeah, that’s typically the excuse I hear from Dutch for their uncivilized behavior. Always something besides we’re rude (e.g. The direct truth). There’s no respect for someone was waiting before me and let them go ahead first. All about the right way is my way.

        The fact that the Dutch don’t have a native expression for excuse me or sorry tells you how they model the world

      • Stella

        @Adam, we zeggen dan “Neemt u mij niet kwalijk”.

    • Scravaldio

      In the UK butchers and bakers are tha same you take a ticket and there is no queue, but this article was mainly referring to the public transport and supermarkets where queueing is necessary and people still beleive they can ignore the rights of others for there own gain.
      The author is referring to a cultural introspection were a lot of people and particualry dutch people think that their own lives are more important and therefore they can go ahead of others regardless of their needs.
      Debating the need for queue’s and using bakers and butchers as examples of the futility of queueing simply shows how little you have understood the point the author was making which is to think about others when a queue is required, which is most of the time.
      Whats missing in dutch culture in the cities as least is common courtesy, which means that even if you don’t know someone their is a level of courtesy that means you will think about their needs ahead of your own and showing that you understand what is fair. Its also called being an adult.

      • eefje

        but how can you make a que for the trains? There isn’t enough room in the station for everyone to stand in line, and besides, you don’t know where all the doors are going to be, so where should the que start?

      • Ries

        Actually in response to Eefje below. This is a part where we aren’t as practical as for example Taiwan. There are queuing lines there and the metro stops exactly on the centimeter with the doors in front of the queue line over there.

        Then again, in NL the conductor will not whistle if someone is still in front of the door and in general you will always get in. In Taiwan you hear a bell and if you didn’t get in on time, you’ll have to await the next one.

    • Angela

      I find the way Dutch trample each other and push and shove like a buffalo herd. It is insane. To wait your turn via a que is civil, organized and polite, how is one to observe the counter of baked goods with dirty sweaty people up against it? Ewww.

      • Arie

        In London I’ve seen the same behaviour with the tube and trains where people try to get in before allowing the people on the train that want to get out, exit. I think bad manners when it comes to crowded environments are not restricted to the Dutch.

    • Love Adventure Happiness

      Here the common is last one served first.
      If there were no queues people that are more introvert would wait forever and rude people would not care if others are waiting longer, they would just state it was their turn…
      Queuing might not be the most effective but it’s the best concerning respect for others that arrived first

  3. Jochem

    I know that people don’t queue in public transport, but cutting the line in the supermarket is not OK. As a Dutchie I wouldn’t accept it either and probably do the same (so yeah, well done on your integration ;)).

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say: if there are queues, Dutch people tend to respect that (you can safely call out someone who doesn’t). When there aren’t queues, like in public transport, it’s a free-for-all.

    • Karen

      Agree 100%. I’m not direct enough to call the ‘voorkruipers’ out on their behavior, though. So I normally go with the angry stare, a pretty Dutch response, too.

      • Adam

        And it’s why the bratty, childish behavior will continue. I skip the passive in passive-aggressivr after years here and let them know that rudeness will be painful. They’re shocked, but get the point (though likely don’t change their rudeness since being polite is a deadly sin in Calvinism). It does help that I’m a weight lifting kick boxer

    • Angela

      That is true, cutting in line at the grocery store is considered rude even by Dutch standards. I have had it happen but not often and it is asocial behaviour indeed. The elevator or lift is another problem area….

      • jcg

        That where dutch directness comes into play: “Hey klootmongool/ouwe tang denk je dat ik hier voor me plezier sta te wachten?”

        The funny bit is it’s usually old people that are experts at jumping queues. Guess they in a hurry with death being so close and all.

  4. Invader_Stu

    Oh god yes. This drives me insane. It happens to me every morning when getting the train as well. People crowd around the doors waiting for the first opportunity to push forward. And then you get the people who even come later and push in front of the crowd. They are pushing in front of the pushers in front! It’s insane!

    • kaicee84

      One of the earliest thing you learn while growing up and using public transport is that it’s everyone for themselves to get that coveted seat. Yes, Sir’s and Madam’s, it is all about the seat and the choice to pick your favorite spot. It’s a race with rules, and they are the following. Use that body, thin and limber works best to sneak into those tight spots. Bags and anything else you can use to keep others behind you are totally okay and when being pushed you dig in your heels and if need be make a nice sharp bumb back (that will teach that person not to try and push you again).

      Of course if you use the same busstops or trainstation you will know where that door stops and get there early enough to Stand. Right. There. Neither rain, wind, burning sun or sweet little children will move you. You will hold your ground and be victorious or as close to it as possible.

      The winner will get his or her’s acclaimed seat and gets to watch all those poor suckers still struggling while you are alreay nice and comfortable. added bonus is to watch those nearly late people run for al there are worth to still get on.

      In short, I try to see it as a game, because getting mad in this situation really doens’t get me very far. (and it certainly won’t get me that seat and neither will good manners. Believe me I tried that but try standing a few hours each day to school and you will be cured)

  5. Bart

    I am Dutch and I totally agree. I often find myself pre-emptively getting angry with someone whom I think is going to cut in line ahead of me. I don’t know where it comes from, but I see it happen quite often. I don’t think many people do it on purpose, though, it’s just that we don’t know how to form orderly queues. For instance, at a bakery or at the market, it’s quite common to not see a queue, but just people swarming the place. Good luck trying to figure out who’s first! People are bound to cut in line without even noticing it.

    I always check when it’s my turn, but many people don’t. Luckily, many people do feel that cutting in line is morally abject, and respond with anger when they notice it happening. It’s not that we have different standards towards cutting in line (even though people probably have grown accustomed to it, so the level of annoyance isn’t as high), it’s just that we don’t seem to have developed adequate ways of dealing with it.

    That’s my theory,anyway.

    • Stella

      Once I heard my own thougths and wondered about being stressed. Was I in hurry? No. Was I grumpy? No. The linebreaker or the shorterness of the other lines take me a quarter of an hour? No. Other valid reasons present? No.
      Well, when everything is ok, I won’t stress anymore on the lines.

  6. Sam

    “Asociaal” and “Doe eens normaal”? I’d say you handled that in the Dutchest way possible.

  7. Leslie

    Many Dutch people know that a lot of Dutch people do not know how to que.
    We keep on pushing to teach queing.
    Is there an ON-line (IN-line) course for this?

    a Dutchess

  8. femke

    Ohhhh it’s not just foreigners who are annoyed about this type of behavior, believe me. And it’s NOT getting better, it’s getting worse. Getting in and out of a train especially is a really good example. So please, for the sake of educating the asociaal Dutch, keep saying “Doe normaal” – apparently, some of us desperately need it 🙁

    I am very curious though how the perpetrator at the Albert Heijn responded. Did he or she get back in the line, did they just ignore you or were they rude about it?

  9. Rob

    hmmm I can not agree with this. I moved away from the Netherlands to Austria some 20 years ago, and to put things in perspective; my former countryman are very good in queuing! Try to buy something in an Austra drugstore, I run hot even entering. You only get something when you have very sharp elbows. In a bank I once kept the privacy distance, an old lady stept in front of my and the woman behind the counter told me that if I am so daft to stand so far away (2 cm behind the clearly visible line) it serves me right.

  10. Andrea Broekhuizen

    So curious as to what happened next ?? Did he slink away or did you have to use your Canadian ninja skills? This could be an excerpt out of mine and many expat friends lives…..

  11. Desiree

    Being a Dutchie who has lived in the UK for a while, this whole queuing thing always makes me itchy or something. Having experienced queuing done right, coming back home was painful. A short wile ago I decided to do a little experiment at Kruidvat, where they had two checkout registers that were opposite of each other open. I just waited in the middle at the end of both lines, adapting the “first, please” strategy I know and love from the UK. Within 2 seconds the person behind me asked which line I was in. When I said “both, if we just wait until one of the registers is free, we will all be served as soon as possible and never have the chance to have chosen the wrong line” (which, as you might know, is something the Dutch always like to complain about). I merely got an angry look, was pushed into one of the lines, and got a less than friendly “moron” comment. It’s those moments that I’m so ashamed to be Dutch….

  12. Marcel

    It often feels like we (Dutchies) are over the tipping point. You feel like you want to wait in a nice queue to board the train, but other people will just stampede in and you’ll be left as the last one to board. Then you’re stuck without a seat, standing annoyingly on the train balcony. So you just “sort of but not really” wait your turn.

    Does that make sense?

  13. Jason

    I can’t do it anymore. I feel my blood pressure rising every morning in this country. It’s like boarding the train with effing animals!” – I LITERALLY think this to myself EVERY morning. It’s nice to see that it’s not me – I’m not crazy. Other people feel the same way I do.

    On a side note, when I confronted a lady who pushed in front of me on a KLM plane, she yelled back at my complaint – why don’t you just doe normaal. so, it’s possible that pushing, shoving, elbowing and generally completely disregarding the people around you is “normaal”

  14. Gabi

    You are absolutely right! I always get stress when I have to take a train or bus during rush hour i try to avoid it. When I was in the USA, I was only 11 then, i noticed that at universal studios, the lines were long, but everybody was waiting in a relaxing matter. I don´t know why we can´t do it over here.

  15. Bas

    So true… you’re not the only one annoyed by this. This Dutch person is too. I wish we had the English style queueing. It’s so much less stressful. Dutch people are notoriously “asociaal” in this way. They only care about getting everywhere first without considering anyone else. And are champions at avoiding meeting your gaze or acknowledging you when they’re doing this. If you confront them they’ll say “Oh sorry, I hadn’t noticed you” without batting an eye while standing 20 cm away from you. However, if you don’t act the same way more “asociaal” people will pass you left and right.

  16. honeybee

    So, what did the guy do? Did he get in line?

  17. Thomas

    I think that the majority of the Dutch know how to queue and also actually do it. However, there appears to be a small portion of the population that seems to simply not give a shit about the others waiting in line. This group spans all ages, classes and ethnicities.

    The problem is that the Dutch are like the English in this regard: too polite/scared to say anything about it. They prefer to stare angrily at the line-cutter. However, the aforementioned group of anti-socials apparently doesn’t care about this form of social control and goes ahead anyway.

  18. Danny

    Well said! One of the multiple reasons this Dutchman left his home country 37 years ago for a more “civilized” NYC! I still bleed Orange, especially this month, but some things are hard to endure.

  19. baasbraal

    That is the first thing I heard as a child. My aunt went to Londen and she came back telling that all the people there waited in a line for the bus without pushing and elbows! For us that was very strange. .Now that I live in Sweden they do the same here and they have numberslips here, even in a clothingshop! On top of that, they are very slow! It still suprises me that people wait so dillingently in lines with those slow salespersons …… I learn more about being Dutch here then I ever learned in Holland and I learn a lot from you of course!

  20. corrie

    i Always say: is jou tijd kostbaarder als de mijne?

    • Alfons van Rechteren

      En als het antwoord “jazeker, tante corrie” is, dan accepteer je het sportief en zonder morren, neem ik aan?

  21. Katja

    I am Dutch myself but I don’t have that problem. It’s not “Dutch” people who cut in lines it’s as you said “asociale” mensen who do that. I don’t think it’s a Dutch thing persé.
    Maybe a funny on to add. when I went to Sweden I discovered that they don’t know the phenomena letting people get of first but just push them selves in the train or subway or whatever form of public transportation oh and elevators.

  22. rura88

    In the more populated cities, like Amsterdam and Rotterdam the skipping lines phenomenon is something you simply cannot escape.

    When I moved to Amsterdam I had to get used to a faster pace of moving and cueing in everyday situation. As I am Dutch this at first surprised me but within a few months I did not know better, you just adapt.

    The skipping lines thing, yeah it is annoying but it is best to not get to worked up about it. Just do your thing before you are late again or it is too late and let the inconsiderate people feel like “klootzakken” when they try to take your place directly.

    You can always be polite about such incidents by saying “Sorry, de rij staat hier” or “Excuseer, ik was eerst. Mag ik er even bij?”. When you do that you are always right and nice.

  23. Peter

    As a Dutchman I hate it too, I know the queuing from the time I lived in England and things got done faster that way. I still wonder why (Dutch) people want to board a ferry/bus/tram/train while other people still have to get off and make space for the ones boarding. They should know by now the ferry/bus/tram/train Always leaves later then the timetable.

  24. Karel

    Well, I’m not saying I agree with the behavior…. but let me tell you why I sometimes behave like this.

    First of all, if you wait and be nice, you will either be the last to get on the train (which means: no seat) or the train will actually leave without you! Second, there’s an element of competition that is sort of fun to me. Even though I understand that once a grandmother or pregnant woman steps in the bus, I will give up my seat, I still get a kick out of getting on that bus quiest as possible and picking the best seats, before any of the other capable people (I’m not up for pusing the elderly and pregnant women out of the way, but any healthy 16-60 years old is fair game). Third, the notion that ‘everyone will get in and out quicker with queues’, might be true, but doesn’t mean that I, as an individual, will get in quicker (so yeah, that’s pretty selfish).

    I do have to say that I don’t do the skipping lines. In my exprience, it’s often older people doing this. Not sure why they think they can do that. Most of the time I’m not bothered by it much, but think it’s funny instead, because they try to do it so secretly, but that never works out of course. They get caught in the act. Also, I don’t like it when people stand too close to me when we are waiting in a line. They seem to be doing that in the south more than the Randstad, though.

  25. The Drowning Octopus

    Bahaha so true! The one that drives me batty is when a register just opens up because the lines are so long, and the people at the BACK OF THE LINE run up and check out! AND NO ONE CARES. This is seen as completely acceptable behavior. -_-

    • Laura

      Sure, but it wouldn’t make sense for the people at the front of the line to change registers, since it’s almost their turn.. So it should kind of cut in the middle, which it often does anyway.
      Also, you can get mad about these things or just accept the fact that it happens and you can’t do nothing about it (unless you’re thinking about starting a fistfight, but that’s asocial as well). It helps with keeping your blood pressure at acceptable levels and really, it costs you like 1 or 2 minutes to keep waiting in the same line, so it’s not the end of the world.

      • Stella

        True, you look if it is advantageous to change the row. And if some people behind you want to run like dumb children, then let them do so.

        Only very exceptionally someone in the middels is pointed at to cross over. But if you do it in the absolute honestlly way, each 2nd one must be invited to cross over. Would be laughable, don’t you think so? Let them run from behind you, it’s not worth your pains.

  26. daquiprai

    Have you ever been to Italy or Brasil? You would think then that the Dutch people really respect lines…:-)

  27. Rich

    It’s like this: either you adhere to proper manners and go mad/burn out/kill someone sooner rather than later or you just shrug and do as everybody does and join the asocial club. That’s the Dutch way, you pay the shit forward. Just a way of coping. It’s not just foreigners that are fed up with this.

  28. CJP

    A short while ago, I was searching your site for exactly this subject, and I was surprised it wasn’t there yet. I’m glad you fixed that.

    About a month ago, an English colleague of me told me how surprised he was to see that we, in that particular situation, managed to make a proper queue: he didn’t expect to see that in the Netherlands (he has lived here for several years). It seemed to me that the particular situation sort of encouraged to form a queue: we were a large group of colleagues (so we had reasons for not angering each other), and we had to enter a bar/restaurant through a single, narrow entrance to get a meal at the counter inside the building, about 10 meters away from the entrance. I think the narrowness of the entrance and the fact that everybody has to follow the same route to the counter are encouraging factors to form a queue inside the building. I think, as soon as a queue is formed, the “nice” dutch people will respect the queue; the problem is that, somehow, queues don’t form spontaneously from an amorphous “cloud” of people, without “encouraging” factors as described above.

    I believe this is why the problem is worst when entering/exiting trains: the exact location of the doors only becomes known when the train stops, so people on the platform have very little time to organize. Also, a train platform is a large, two-dimensional area, in which people can (and do) approach train doors from all directions; there is no preferred direction/route to train doors, where a queue could form. Another way of looking at it is that there are dozens of queues for a single train door, all coming from different directions, approaching the same train doors.

    It would be a fun research project to see whether dutch railway platforms could have improved throughput if
    * fences are placed on the platform, parallel with the railway track, to make some routes to the doors impossible (effectively making the platform more “one-dimensional”
    * some train doors are marked as entrance and some as exit

  29. EJH

    I’m a Brit and after more than 14 years in NL I still have to take a chill pill in queueing situations… My (Dutch) husband and I do have a theory about this, though. The next time someone pushes in and pretends not to have seen ANYONE in the whole effing queue, do a mental check: is he/she late 50’s, early 60’s? Chances are the answer is YES. The ex-hippies are the worst generation when it comes to queueing. Today’s students, on the other hand, are (in my experience) much more aware of other people around them in the supermarket. So I think things are getting better. Slowly 🙂

    • jcg

      Hmmm, you could be onto something, with them being a strong force inside politics it could also explain the americanizing of our social system (or destruction, whatever you like to call it).
      Guess the love generation turned into the “fuck you, got mine” generation

  30. Richard

    “It’s like boarding the train with effing animals”

    Ever tried to board the go train in Toronto at rush hour?, it’s not just the dutch, it’s everwhere

  31. Eric van der Horst

    Ha! As a Dutchman, I stand my grounds if I need to (especially at the Albert Heijn queue), but in public transport situations I bowed out of the crazy crowd pushing since I was a teenager. Most Dutch people don’t seem to realise that the bus or train they are taking won’t leave until everyone is in, so why pushing? It is the same on any low-budget flight to/from Amsterdam; Dutchies pushing themselves through the gate with their boarding passes. I normally take it easy then; I remain seated and just enjoy observing the “social interactions of pushing” and walk on as the last person. This has often a great advantage, as on a crowded train, plane or bus, the last person in is the first person out! A great advantage if you don’t like crowds like me…

    Living in the UK, I sometimes forget about all this. Completely accustomed to the local antics here, I already say “sorry” before I am even close to a person in a shop. This is naturally a completely odd thing to do when being back for a visit to my beloved lowlands. I find myself whispering “sorry” to people, but while I say it, I know I shouldn’t have bothered. The Dutch people are not bothered. Unbelievably how a stay abroad can “reprogram” a Dutch person!

    I usually receive the first elbow or shoulder push though within the first hour after my arrival back in The Netherlands, a charming event that always makes me realise I am truly back home…

    • Stella

      I get no pushes in the traffic. The spare contact come from me: bad equilibre at unexpected turns and stops. Underestimating the flood of travallers in the hall of Amsterdam Centraal Station. Only in the tram in Amsterdam I was once nearly killed because of touching someone, who could have seen that I lost my balance.

  32. Petrus Post

    I… Don’t recognise this at all. (Almost) nobody does this at my Albert Heijn in Rotterdam. And also not in the Albert Heijn in the city center.

    The train story is more recognisable. But at the supermarket? Never. The only annoyance I have there is when the person in front of me isn’t polite enough to put the divider on the conveyor belt.

  33. nhieubeauty

    Have you ever been in China? THAT is cutting line on a whole other level! Interesting how people from different cultures see other cultures though.

    • Angela

      Yeah been to China, Beijing Did not see much difference really…

  34. jaap

    We probably never qeueuing anywhere. Just standing side by side at the front. Even at ATM we stand around it. Nut There id a different beteren the west andere the East of Holland. We in the west are always on a hurry. While in the East people are far more relaxed.

  35. Angela

    why not have neither? Why does that justify rude, disrespectful behaviour?

  36. Daniel

    It’s very bad in public transport. pYou like the word utter! It means most extreme. Ever visited a country outside of north america or northern europe?

  37. Marcel

    I never understand when people say this. I have been going to (grocery) stores in The Netherlands my entire live, in the big cities, including Amsterdam and in small places and everywhere people wait in line, except for the very rare line jumper, the Dutch que in the grocery store, and other stores where they are supposed to (as another commenter said, at the butcher, bakery, etc. you are not supposed to que), so I seriously wonder where this complaint comes from.

    Off course, public transport is a different matter, though there as another poster said, ques are completely irrelevant. you will not get to your destination faster or slower, depending on when you get on, so it doesn’t matter who get’s on first. the only people that complain are the ones that are trying to get on first. (I personally Always have to laugh at the idiocy of seeing people in line at the bus stop in the UK, instead of relaxing and walking around a bit while waiting for the bus. Always makes me glad i don’t live there.)

  38. MyTasteHisTaste

    Are you joking? Complaining about the Dutch not queueing? Where have you been? I spent 5 years in Singapore before moving to the Netherlands, if you ever live/been in Singapore, they are notorious for queueing anywhere that needs one. I never have problem with the Dutch when it comes to queueing. They are certainly not fantastic but it’s not something you should be complaining about. Pick something else more worthy to write.

  39. Wendy

    Netherlands is so small, really we dont think we have the numbers to actually have to form a que……lolz

    naw seriously whenever I will ANNOY myself over pushing and dodging que I will remember that youtube clip and if its the last thing I will do I will play it with the volume to the max hahahahahahaha

  40. Pete

    Actually it’s Albert Heijn. Not “Hein”. You’re probably thinking of Heineken.

  41. Dennis E.

    Well written.
    To be honest, most line cutting is done by the elderly. They somehow feel they are allowed to because they’re older, thus making them more important (“our generation shaped this country!”) .. Oh well. And talking about public transport, not only are people pushing to get in, they’re doing the same thing to get out! 5 minutes before the train arrives at the destination, people are already standing up and heading for the doors. It’s a race to a red light (which the Dutch do all too often).
    I always stay seated and watch people stand in line to get out.
    Do you prefer standing in line, having people breathe down your neck or stay seated comfortably and wait 30 seconds. Easy choice I would say.

    • Michael

      I’ve noticed this too. Almost every time I get out of a train, there’s a member of the 50+ers, the people I call the ‘Omroep MAX fanclub’, who’s wormed his way to the front of the platform to stand directly in front of the door, oblivious to the fact that there are likely to be people getting out of the train. Young Dutch people need to teach the oldies some manners.

  42. laura

    Ahh, this explains so much! Married to a Dutchman and living in the US, we travel to NL each summer. In Schipol this summer a Dutch woman brazenly cut into the mid point of a VERY long check-in line with her big fat trolley, splitting me from my young children behind me. I responded in English with mother bear ferocity, “The end of the line is way back there! These are my kids! Please allow me to get to my children!” She graciously (not) allowed me to collect my two small children from behind her but insisted that she had a right to enter the line at this point and the Dutch young women behind her grumbled but to no avail! She trenchantly stayed in line arguing with everyone around her. It was just my luck that we ended up sitting next to each other all. the. way. home. That was a LONG 12 hours.

  43. Helder Water

    I’m dutch and I hate this anti-social behaviour. It’s not typical Dutch. It’s bad manners.
    I think it’s the worst in the cities, esp. Amsterdam. In small villages such as the one where my parents live, you won’t find this type of behaviour. I am not sure about “the Bakker Bart theory” as an explanation for the queu-less Dutch.

  44. Frans

    (Slowly) marching in line may feel fascist for older generations.

  45. Optimel

    In some cities people won’t queue before entering a train, but in the smaller cities and villages they will. If they don’t they’ll get scolded at or pulled back by other people waiting in line.
    At shops or snack bars it’s a whole different world! A lot of people have a hard time waiting somehow!

  46. Laura

    I don’t really recognise this problem and I am surprised to see so many do.. We don’t (always) form neat queus (although I think we do in the supermarkets), but there always is an order in the seeming chaos. Also with public transportation, the people outside wait for the people inside to get out and the people closest to the entrance go in first, etc. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in a big city?

    • Stella

      This is what I see too. No neat lines, but useful manners teached like first out, then in.
      I agree, it could be practised a bit more elegantly.

      Ha! If you run in when passengers are leaving, you are shoved out too. Or they wait like an unpassable wall untill they can leave.

  47. thesmallgirl

    hahaha, brilliant article! 😀 thank you for sharing! I don’t have to travel on the train at rush hours, I hope it will remain like this! :)))

  48. EP

    Nasty. You should see the queue jumping in China. It would put the Dutch to shame.

  49. kvdh80

    It s just what you are used too, i live in istanbul and i am dutch and for me the Netherlands is peace, people at least wait in a queue according to what i am used to here, you should see how it it in turkey, there is no queue, everyone is standing in a circle pushing themselves to the front. Even if i am standing in front of a cashier with a crying baby and a toddler who is trying to eat the candy there, people just put their stuff in front of mine and don t even have a quick look at me. Now i always say something now, but these things i have never seen in the Netherlands…

  50. vandercoelen

    This really depends on where you are in the country. The closer you are to the Randstad the less people are willing to queue. When you get outside of the Randstad people will actually wait their turn in general. Exiting the train in Tilburg for instance is a breeze compared to Rotterdam for instance.

  51. mobidutch

    On behalf of fellow dutchies: What is this queue thing you are talking about?? 😉

  52. Darkmanx

    The problem is not only with the queue-barger, but also the one serving, confirming that queue-barging does indeed work. Whilst working in bars in the UK a vital part of the job was to note who had been waiting the longest, and if the big and tall man pushed himself against the bar and waved his money in his face, or the deluded over made-up woman tried pushing for VIP treatment, you’d make a point of ignoring them until they learned to behave properly. In too many Dutch bars I’ve seen those types being given immediate attention, and the bar staff clearly oblivious that I’ve been waiting five minutes. I’ve sometimes just given up out of frustration and asked an attractive female friend to order for me as I’m pretty certain they won’t have the same problem.

  53. MasterKen

    Oh, but there are two more issues, adding to the cuing drama: In the shops there are either too much pleasantries or too little. Imagine a Kruidvat setting:

    Too much pleasantries: There are 10-20 people in cue BUT the cashier decides to make small talk with the client at hand, which usually extends beyond the paying point. To service one client it takes two minutes, when it could have been done in 30 seconds. You are that lucky number 18 in the line and everybody both behind and in front of you is annoyed of the time it takes to get to the till, BUT everybody still engages in a pleasant convo and shared laugh with the cashier nevertheless. WHY?!?!?!?!

    Too little pleasantries: When you have a cart full of weeks’ worth of shopping and the person behind you has one item, it is only common curtsy to offer them to go before you. Even if I offer for people to go in front of me, they stare me down like I’m crazy and sometimes refuse.

  54. Fred (UK)

    For that I miss the number tickets and even the question: “Who was last” at the doctor. Having said that, its also a cultural thing. It comes a bit with the natural fear a putting someone in a box. Dutch people don’t like to be boxed. Waiting in a queue is waiting till its your turn. In a society where individualism is considered a high quality, queuing is not realty an option. Its as sad as it sounds. However, standing in 10 queues in a shop waiting for a till, is efficient neither. It would be better if you have one entrance for 10 tills. That way you can go to the till that’s emptied first. Living in the UK now for 10 years, I can see the same issues. Sometimes people wait for their turn, and sometimes they jump forward as well. But I have to agree that queuing is not a Dutch speciality. But hey, even perfect people must have some issues lol…

  55. Bas

    This really makes me laugh, we just do it differently here. There is asked who is next, and everybody knows who’s next, if we don’t we ask.

  56. Bas

    Also keep in mind that postals always get priority by the way, the guy did nothing wrong that is perfectly normal.

  57. Mark Varner

    The first survival phrase my Dutch friends taught me upon arrival for a year-long visit to the Netherlands was ‘ik ben eerste.’ They explained why and made me practice

  58. timothylaw202941734

    What do you do when you are waiting in line for someone but when it is your turn, that someone you’ve been waiting for hasn’t arrived yet. Do you let one person behind you pass first and you be the next after that person (What if everyone behind you got offended)? Or do you quite your place in the queue and go all the way back of the line to wait? Is there a name for this? Line Hogging?

    • alongfortheride2015

      you let the person behind you go ahead of you if you are not ready. It makes no difference to the others in line because they are still going ahead of you.

      • Timothy Law

        What if the others behind you consider that you are already out of the line? They will not let you “cut” back in the line.
        For example, The line is starting from you, A, B, C, D.
        Once you let A pass you, and then B, but you are ready to go in before C. But C told you “Hey, no cutting the line, there’s no reservation here. I am behind B, I go after B, not after you! Get Lost!”

        How do you reason that out, in any situation similar to this.

        Thank you.

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