Lines

It’s interesting to notice the different cultural customs in various areas of the world. 

Here is a little one you may not be familiar with. It’s about ordering a drink at a bar: 

In California, when you’re in a crowded bar and you want to order a drink, you typically have to fight your way to the edge of the bar, and lean way over the top of the bar and try to flag the attention of the bartender. Everyone else is doing this too, of course, so the scene ends up looking like a litter of frantic piglets fighting over a trough. 

But when you’re in a crowded bar in Portland, Oregon, often times bar patrons will politely form a single-file line that leads up to the bar. That’s right, people waiting to buy a beer stand in line like kids waiting for a school bus. It is arrestingly polite. And an oddity for those of us not from Oregon. Perhaps this happens in other states, too. But I’ve never in my life seen it in California. 

It’s incredible because there was never an official rule posted. There’s no sign that says, “Line Forms Here.” Instead, it’s just the custom in Portland. The line spontaneously arises out of a culture of courtesy and attention to others. 

Without being told to, people really can get together and cooperate. 

Even if it’s just to get a beer.