This discussion stems from something that happened to me this weekend. I talked about how I helped an Ethiopian lady in Istanbul Airport in a previous blog post. So we were in the queue for the e-visa machine but because we could not figure out how the machine works and there was no attendant at that time, we went to ask for help. When we came back to the queue, we went to the back of the queue because it is generally accepted that if you leave the queue, you have forfeited your spot and if you do return, you go back to the back of the queue.
While we were in the queue for the second time, an elderly lady was standing beside the man that was ahead of us and she told us that she would go right after the man because she was on the line before she left. Now, the person that was ahead of us did not mention that the elderly lady was behind him so we had no idea if she was actually being truthful but we let it slide because “respect your elders”. While the first lady was at the machine, another lady came and stood beside her. When she was confronted by us, she said that she was behind the lady that had just shunted the line but the elderly lady did not mention that the second lady was behind her and again when you leave the queue, you forfeit your spot. I did not have a problem with letting her go ahead because I was not in a hurry, but I did not like the entitled tone with which she spoke to us. Madam, you were not on the line and the woman who was ahead of us did not tell us that you were behind her, instead of asking politely to go before us, you decide to demand it like it is your human right. As far as I know (I just googled it), the right to leave a line and come back to your spot is not in the Human Rights Charter.
The Ethiopian lady was not having it because she was in a hurry to get to the ticket office and get a flight that was leaving to Ethiopia on that day to avoid spending the night in the airport or staying in a hotel, but we did not argue with the lady. When the elderly lady was done, we quickly stepped up to the machine before the second lady could. The second lady told the attendant that she was on the line before us and he asked us if it was true. We said we did not see her on the line and he also said that he did not see her on the line, so we were attended to before her. She started throwing a fit and calling us rude and disrespectful. Now, I am all about respecting your elders, but ‘omo’ in an airport, it is every man/woman for himself/herself and if I miss my flight because of niceness and politeness, nobody would help me get a new ticket out of niceness and politeness. Another advice, if you want to go ahead of someone, be nice and ask politely, if the person is not in a hurry themselves, they may let you go but no one owes you that; it is not your right.