Ladies First, or You’ll Be Trampled – Russia Lesson 3

I try my best to practice ‘ladies first’ out of courtesy. In Russia men need to do it for their own safety.

Many countries do not have a queuing culture, Russia is interesting in that the men generally queue, and to be fair, many women, however every line I have been in has had one or more women cutting in front, brushing aside any men in their way. There is a determination and physicality in the charge to the front that says, “Clear out!”

At the ticket line for The Hermitage in St. Petersburg I decided to test what would happen if I fought back a bit. The line started with about 10 people in front of me of various genders.

Within a minute, Line Cutter 1 had swooped in from the left. She was a bit too far ahead for me to challenge her.

Russian Line Cutters 1

Then elderly Line Cutter 2 slipped in on the right, she made the mistake of eye contact. I frowned a bit, not wanting to take on the elderly. She cleverly pretended to be joining the cluster of old ladies in front of me. Then never spoke to them or even acknowledged them. Crafty.

Moving forward the lines branched. Line Cutter 1 had gone right, I left, but she was dissatisfied with progress so jumped to the front of my line. I voiced my displeasure and she looked shocked, then managed an English, “Who, me?” And got her ticket.

Now just one person ahead of me for the prized ticket, out of nowhere Line Cutter 3 came in pretending to be in a great hurry. I partially blocked her path and told her to wait in line. She did not speak any English but pointed to her watch and pushed forward past me and the women in front, forcing her arm with cash into the ticket window. She was clearly angry that I had the temerity to challenge her.

Russian Line Cutters 2

Experiment done. Back to ladies first, all the time.

Note: this is intended to be tongue in cheek with a bit of humor but is all the truth.

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  • OK, to be fair, not all Russian women are this way. I always waited my turn. My mom on the other hand is just how you described. Only she would cut in front of the cutters! Thats how crafty she is.

  • Faramarz Oglukianstich

    “Russia is interesting in that the men generally queue, and to be fair, many women”

    Western women that is…

  • Jimmy

    What an interesting country… horrible drivers and line cutters. Fantastic!

  • Joey

    I’ve been going to the cronut line every month and it’s always entertainment to see how line cutters fare. For me, the etiquette really depends on the 2-5 people behind the person cutting (one of those 5 people should really tell the person cutting the line where the end of the line is.) Ever since September, though, Dominique has a security guard outside manning the line making sure new people know where the end of the line is.

  • Shannon

    This happens every day at NY Penn Station. Have you ever seen passengers out of trains trying to “merge” in line to escalator but just to pretend there is long line after the “break point”? I wish you could be hero to say something next time.

  • ClearedCustoms

    As a line defender myself I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.

  • Steelsnow

    So I guess I will bring the China into this discussion (beyond the train/personal space thing). When we were last there it went far beyond a man/woman thing. My wife said the lines to the ladies rooms were amazing, as other women would just dart around each other from no where to try and slip into the bathroom, to the point where she was having to block them with her hips and shoulders, and then they would try to slip around the other side! Age was no consideration either…

  • @Steelsnow – my years living in China provided constant amusement and frustration on this. One of the classic moves, seen often on the Shanghai subway, is when a man flies into the carriage, crashes into the last open seat, then immediately pretends to be asleep to not have to face the glares of pregnant women and others, except that his chest is heaving and a grin is showing on his face. Plenty of times in Shanghai I have seen parents scold children for giving up their seats to those in need. This happens less in the north like Beijing where people actually do give up seats.

    @Shannon – my attempt to tolerate NYC is to avoid as much non-walking transport as possible. Penn Station is one of the few places where Americans lose their big personal space in the shuffling crush and the results are often not good. Plus it is a horrible station. Sorry you have to deal with it.

  • Mr. Cool

    lol пиздец

  • Joe

    Rapidtravelchai – there are definitely line-cutters in Russia, same as in every other country (although China is probably the worst in this regard) however your test was positive, since it revealed that the man whether from Russia or from foreign country should allow a lady to go first, as it shows that a person is cultural. It’s also the unofficial rule or showing respect to all women/females and the only males who would act in Russia like you did (I mean cutting other women) would be those who don’t consider themselves as men (like gays) Are you one of them? No offense if you are! )) Thirdly, the life in Russia is actually really hectic, especially in Piter (that’s regarding a lady pointing you her watch). As I understood the second lady didn’t reply to you in English, however from your story I understood that she probably said to you in clear Russian: “Иди на хуй” (literally – get a dick in your a..) she probably forgot a Universally accepted American “Fuck You!” And lastly I bet that, you wouldn’t dare to do this experiment with the Russian men, since you could easily get a fist in your teeth in no time, rather than only kind women’s “Fuck you” Just my sincere advice while traveling in Russia: Don’t experiment with Russians too much, since you may end up in the hospital! P.S. St.Petersburg is a City of cultural people vs Moscow, so act accordingly and abide cultural rules, rather than acting erratically like an uneducated goat!

  • Sc

    Uh, joe, when you are scolding someone for being culturally deficient, try to leave anecdotes about goats out of your argument, since it takes away some of your credibility.

  • Gene

    @Joe — I’m pretty sure 99% of gay males consider themselves men. If Russia wasn’t so backwards with respect to gay rights, maybe you would know more about gay people. Until then, please keep your bigoted opinion to yourself.

  • @Gene – well said. I am catching up after a day on the road in Ukraine. I do not want intolerance to be part of the discussion here.

  • Joe

    Gene, I assume you’re a woman! Right? So how do you know that gay men consider themselves men, rather than women. Maybe you’d also say that gay men never consider plastic surgeries that will make them look more like women, or at least they never make depilation and never use make-up???)) You’d better go ahead and read psychology first, before stating wrong info here & calling someone a bigot. Secondly, the reason why in Russia there are not too many gays, is only because in Russia there is one of the highest concentration of beautiful women in the world (just read the percentage of models being Russian or Eastern European and that says it all!). Thus, in the Society where the women are so beautiful as models (blond, blue-eyed and skinny) a man would never have doubts whether to choose natural path and be straight or to be homo. You get the point? Additionally, Russia as the whole Eastern Europe is very Christian-centric society, (Christian Orthodox to be specific) and as such Sodomism is considered a sin, not just on a paper as in the Catholic Church now, but in practice and in reality. Other than that nobody is really against gays in general and their pervertism, they can and they do whatever they want inside their homes, it’s their right! But even I, a 25 year old man, consider that it’s bad to publically advertise such unnatural relations in mass-media, because next would be zoophiles and pedophiles asking for their rights! Hope you’d get the point. And I said in my first comment, that no offense if RapidTravelChai is a gay, since he acted like one in Ermitage (correct name in russian language) Best of Luck!

  • JohnnieD

    Last May coming back from AMS at JFK (Delta Award) waiting in line at immigration, two young women walked by everyone they could until they were blocked by the zig zag being narrow. Getting closer to them as we zigged and they zagged their language was Russian. Now I know why they did it!