What interests me, intrigues me, makes me smile,
and makes me wonder...


What I've learned so far in Jakarta, part 2

Continuing the lessons I've learned so far...
  • Never, ever set foot in a supermarket on a weekend early in the month. The combination of 'just got paid (gajian) at the end of the month' and the leisurely weekend create a crush of humanity in most shops and supermarkets. We didn't realize that until we went to Carrefour (it's like WalMart and a supermarket rolled into one superstore) on the first of this month, which fell on a Saturday. We only had several items, but getting to the cashier proved to be a painstakingly long process. Ridiculously long lines snaking into the product aisles jammed every open cashier. It took us over one hour to check out. It was like shopping on Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping madness in the U.S. And wouldn't you know it, right before it was our turn at the checkout, a lady slipped in front of us with just one item (a hairbrush) to purchase. At first she asked the lady in front of me who was paying for her items to include the hairbrush in the purchase, offering her the cash to pay for it. But the other lady just ignored her. And the hairbrush lady, instead of turning to me (who had patiently and properly waited my turn for an hour) to ask for permission or at least offer an apology for cutting the line, just weakly smiled at me and said nothing, acting like there's nothing wrong at all. I would let her pay ahead of me anyway, but the fact that she didn't even ask me is what bugged me the most. Yes, I did let her pay ahead of me, but I just rolled my eyes, then stared icily at her and said nothing also (although I did think of some words to say...). And this incident just underlined another 'thing' I've learned here, that...

  • 99.99% of Indonesians have no grasp of the concept of 'waiting in line' or 'waiting your turn' (don't quote me on the number, it's not based on any solid research, it just seems like it!) Yes, some people in some places do wait in line, but it's far from second nature or the culture here.

  • Another unknown concept here is 'personal space' ... those who do wait in line behind you do so almost breathing down your neck. Forget about maintaining a polite distance from the other customer. My theory is that if there's even a slightest gap in the line they're afraid another person would cut into it ... (sigh...)

2 comments:

Joshua said...

I had similar experience the last time when I was in Indonesia. I was in line at the cashier at a department store and when my turn came up, all of a sudden I don't know where it came from, when all of a sudden there was this woman who moved faster than a speeding bullet . . . in front of me and she managed to squeeze in her arm between my shoulder and the fiber glass barrier and ignoring me, she just said to the cashier that she was buying . . . one hair brush!

Yes, Indonesians have no concept of "waiting in line" or "wait for your turn". It seems that even Indonesians who live in US are like that too. Just visit my church's "warung" in US!

And Yes as far as maintaining a polite distance from other customer, Indonesians don't understand that either. Last time I was visiting Indonesia, when I was at department stores, grocery stores, every few minutes, I had to put my hand on my wallet because people kept bumping me on that part (Sheesh!). I just want to make sure that my wallet is still there!

adhi said...

hehe... itulah indonesia...! =D you'll get used to it.