Sloane Crosley: 'Whether you say ‘queue’ or ‘line’, cutting one is both universal and instantly understood'

Share
Related Topics

Brits and Americans have hundreds of different phrases for the same thing. Luckily, it's usually a source of amusement rather than frustration. A flashlight by any other name is still a torch. My personal favourite is "fairy lights", which we boringly refer to as "Christmas lights".

The classic, and most regularly encountered, point of difference between British English and American English, is the concept of "queue" vs "line". And once that's been established, are you "in it" or "on it"? I have always referred to myself as waiting "in line" which apparently makes me un-American. I suppose neither is visually accurate. "On line" makes me feel like an elephant about to sit on one's fellow wait-ers. Then again, "in line" smacks of naughty puppeteering.

But you know what is universal and instantly understood on both sides of the planet? Cutting. At rush hour recently, I was waiting on line to purchase tickets at a train station. An animated English girl waited impatiently in the same queue behind me. After several minutes of dramatic foot-tapping and some supplementary sighing, she decided enough was enough.

She broke out of the line, approached a gentleman closer to the front of the line and explained that her train was set to depart in five minutes. Could she possibly cut in? Maybe it was the accent. Maybe it was the pleading face of an attractive girl. No matter what it was, the man allowed her to cut a line about 12 passengers deep. While one wants to, where possible, curtail one's spiralling decent into curmudgeonry, I think I may have let out an "Are you kidding me!?". It's very nice for that man that his train wasn't set to leave for another half hour – but it was at the expense of 10 other people.

Here's another phrase that should head round the world: tough luck, lady. I wish he'd used it. I got my ticket and bolted to make the train, the doors shutting at my heels. Sitting in front of me, free of heavy breath, was the girl. When it was time to exit the train, I made sure to shuffle swiftly past her to wait in/on the taxi line/queue.





Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible