queue is for quiescent

The discussion of attempted line-jumping reminds me of a discussion of queuing behavior in Russia – focused mostly on the Soviet era, but with reference to more recent times – that I read on the h-russia e-mail list years ago. You can find the whole archived discussion in the fall 2001 h-russia logs.* This is probably the most similar anecdote (though with a different outcome), followed by this. And for a more in-depth analysis, see here.

But my favorite story is this one:

Sorry I don’t have any citations to research but in a basic guide book
to Moscow I have here there is mention of something worth including in your efforts.

Namely – when McDonald’s opened their first place in Moscow there were of course huge lines. The Russians then automatically lined up in the longest of the multiple queues on the standard presumption that the longest queue went to the sales place with the highest quality goods. McDonald’s had to pass out printed notes explaining that all queue’s went to the same products.

Guidebooks are not the most reliable of sources so it might well be an urban legend, but lots of urban legends read like jokes and sometimes they’re just as amusing.

*It looks like it started with a query in October, the bulk of the discussion was in November, and there were some follow-ups in December. The subject lines use either the words “queue” or “line.”