Ah yes, the inevitable downside of visiting a small island with a humungous number of residents and a gargantuan number of visitors is that for most thingss you want to go to, eat, buy or watch you will have to queue. Mostly it’s because there’s a limited supply of something that a lot of people want, see the video on the cronut line. Or a lot of people wanting something that is being sold from a small space that only a few people can fit into at any one time. So it is with bars, clubs, delis, fashion sales and the Empire State building.
New Yorkers are used to navigating ‘The Line’ but often visitors are not, so here’s how it’s done. No one cares how you do it as long as you do not inconvenience others in ‘the line’ or passersby, both of whom are equally important. See the Cronut line video and notice that some people have brought along props to help their queuing and no one is turning a hair. But there were very nasty scenes once when a celeb took it upon herself to simply take herself to the top of the queue. Yes failing to observe the etiquette of giving precedence to the person or persons who joined the queue ahead of you is a hanging offence. And do not block people walking past, see those cronut queuers hugging the fence.
Which raises the issue of choosing. NYC will give you massive choice in relation to most things. Take the average Deli. You will first up have a choice of bagels or bread and numerous versions of same. Then you have to choose from among, fried egg, ham, pastrami, corned beef, smoked salmon, tuna salad, turkey, chicken salad, roast beef beef and egg sald. Trust me I’ve missed out a few here. Then it’s onto toppings. Do you want tomato, hot peppers, chopped onions, capers, anchovies, avocado, hot peppers, sauerkraut or sour pickles with that? And don’t forget you can choose between spicy mustard, salt and pepper, hummus, hot sauce or mayo.
Overwhelming, yes certainly it is, and absolutely if you have never had to make those choices in a NYC Deli before. But and it is a huge but, ‘The Line’ exerts an evil influence in this situation. You see NYC Delis are very popular and a lot of people want to get their breakfast/lunch/evening bagel/sandwich right now and they are queuing behind you to get it. So no pressure, this is the way to handle it like a New Yorker.
You must absolutely make you selection before you get in ‘the Line’. When you get to the head of the line, rattle off your order quickly but clearly, then the staff person will rattle it off right back at you to check he or she has got it right. If at this stage you have a change of heart make the request for a change a simple, easy one to make. Don’t go “Oh I think I might have chicken salad instead of egg salad”. That brings the fundamentals of your bagel/sandwich into question but a brisk “Hold the mayo” passes the test…provided you make one change and one change only. See no pressure!
You see the more you change your mind or dither over which ingredients should grace your bagel/sandwich the longer people in ‘The line’ have to wait to get their bagel/sandwich and that is what you must-not-do, hold others up. Normally tolerant New Yorkers who will not turn a hair if you join ‘the Line’ naked will turn into rabid beasts if you hold them up in any way.