PORTUGAL and England have many cultural ties and similarities, but one that most observers have overlooked is our joint propensity for queuing.
I was recently entrusted with taking a couple of horsy girls back to Faro airport after their holiday with us.
After dropping them off I decided to make a day of it down in the bright lights of The Algarve even if it was about 11.30am when I parked outside Ghia shopping mall.
It’s not that often I get ‘off-the-plot’ so I’d decided treat myself to an afternoon at the flicks! I’d seen trailers for a new disaster movie, 2012, which showed enough to assuage my fears that it wasn’t about the funding for the London Olympics.
I’d checked the showing times on T’internet and the first was at 12.40pm. So I had a quick greasy lunch, got my bottle of calorie-free water and set off to get seated when the cinema complex opened at 12.30pm.
By 12.45 I was getting concerned and agitated and it got worse as time ticked away and nothing happened. There were 20 of us in the queue and only one attendant had shown up to sell tickets.
‘Desculpa para temp epoca empressa em funciomanto’ which was my alternative way of saying ‘get your finger out, you’re too slow!’ At which she just gave me the Portuguese standard reply when harassed – an exaggerated shrug!
I finally acknowledged defeat and stomped out, using a few more basic phrases to emphasise my disappointment.
I called in Gomes Aires to get an appointment at the doc’s for Ruth. She couldn’t go herself as she had an important horse to ride or something.
The waiting room had about 30 people in. The Alentejo region of Portugal has an ageing population and obviously most of them were here at the doc’s for attention and a good natter, like a tea-dance without music but with ointments! There was a TV on showing Portuguese breakfast programmes, obviously to quell riots! Most of the patients were there for that morning ...or maybe all day!
I was drawing near the receptionist’s hatch when the receptionist whipped out her raffle tickets and began selling them to the patients, initially as they came to the hatch, but later to those she had missed who came back for a ticket before the setting of appointments could recommence!
Looking around I was scanning the room, easily done as the older Alentejans are nearly all on the short side, when I spotted our neighbour, Lucilla, who was trying to get to me but was blocked out by the raffle-buying throng! Just then the patients’ changing room door opened and out came an old guy holding aloft an impressively full and obviously fresh sample jar! As the crowd parted to let him progress towards the nursing station, Lucilla followed in his wake and, understanding my plight, got me sorted with an appointment sharpish, thus saving me sending out for a pizza lunch. Truly, a number of the male patients were booking in, then adjourning to the bar over the road for refreshments and a natter with their mates. It was still daylight as I got back to the pick-up!
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