New Yorkers stand in line a lot. They queue up to get into favorite Delis for breakfast, to buy bargains on Black Friday, to buy tickets for ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ in Central Park, to buy much prized culinary offerings like the cronut or cupcakes, to buy Apple appliances and to get into very popular pop-up shops that are selling much prized merchandize of various sorts.
But there is an etiquette to the whole thing. First and foremost DO NOT CUT THE LINE. Celebrity counts for nothing when there is a line in place as Emma Roberts discovered when she tried to cut the Cronut line. The only person who seems to pull it off is Obama and lets face it a security detail is kind of intimidating.
The second most important rule is stay out of the way of everyone else when you are in the line. New Yorkers walk fast and they get very, very cranky when someone stops them doing it. See the long, long ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ line in the video and notice how respectfully everyone sits or stands on the side of the path. Check the next food truck line you pass and also notice how everyone hugs the curb. That’s how it’s done.
The third important rule is not to make anyone in the line wait linger than they have to. This especially applies if you are buying food. Do not get to the head of the line and then agonize over your choices of cheese, onions or pickles on your hot dog. Stand out of the line and check what your choices are before you get in line, choose, and when you get to order give your order quickly and clearly. Everyone in the line will then love you.
As a general rule New Yorkers do not do casual small talk so never try it on the subway but a long overnight line can change that a little. But even then it’s best to do your line waiting with a group of friends and help each other out when you need to leave the line momentarily for food, drink or to take a toilet break etc.
So there you have it. Lines in London can be long and tiring but there is an inbuilt agreement about politeness that lets some people exploit the good nature of Londoners. No such agreement exists in NYC. Not observing line etiquette will get you snarls and very, very bad tempers in NYC.