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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.
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.
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.