I have had a blog dilemma lately. About 75% of this dilemma is a lack of time to write the long, thoughtful posts that were characteristic of my past year in Morocco. About 20% is that this was originally a travel blog, and since I haven’t been traveling, I am at a loss of what to say. The last 5% or so revolves around writer’s block, which is probably due to a combination of reasons 1 and 2. Therefore, needless to say, I have opted for silence as my primary solution.
However, my discovery of the utility of twitter has caused me to rethink this wordlessness. I don’t necessarily have to spend hours on a post to contribute to the ‘global blogosphere’ because sometimes there is such a thing as short and sweet. Also, I have said over and over again that the thing I love about traveling is the process of rediscovering your own culture. Therefore, I’m going to try a new model….short posts detailing my small American culture (re)discoveries.
Today on NPR, a civil engineer from MIT was discussing his new book about the psychology of queuing in America. In researching the mathematical processes involved with lines, he discovered that the way our minds think about is equally complex and intriguing. One statement he made really stuck with me, “A queue is a microcosm of the culture where it is.”
I remember my first line experience in Morocco. I had gotten off the plane and was ready to get my first Moroccan stamp in my passport. The airport in Casablanca has very nice lines set up to go straight to a control officer with a stamp in hand. However, like everything in Morocco, the lines were a suggestion and elbows were more useful than ‘wait-your-turn’ theories. So, after being pushed aside by 20 large women probably named ‘Fatima,’ I decided to take my turn instead of wait for it.
Upon re-entry into the US, I was again confronted with a line. This time, however, I saw things a little differently. I no longer imagined a wall surrounding the person in front of me preventing my passage. I saw the open space that my Moroccan counterparts saw, and I went for it saying to myself, “Ugh, Americans, all in the way.” This action had two consequences for me: 1)the person I ‘cut’ was very unhappy and choose to inform me as such and 2)I had thought of myself as apart from everyone by the sheer fact that I was willing to cut in line. After sufficiently apologizing to my compatriot in the line and assuring them that I meant no ill will by that maneuver, I stood there and smiled to myself. The invisible wall between of us in the line was starting to reappear. The importance of the ‘wait-your-turn’ philosophy was dawning on me once again, and I felt the full weight of American spacial culture materializing in that one, small airport queue.