Swedes like it when things are tidy and in organized. They are also convinced that no one should take advantage of someone. You can spot both traits when you observe the way Swedes administer the way they wait in line.
(Find translations and useful Swedish vocabulary in the bottom of this post.)
Queuing in Sweden
Whenever you enter a store , look for the number dispenser. If you miss it, things can go wrong…
You enter a place where you get service behind the counter, like at the car-workshop, hospital or police station, pharmacy or even bank. You step ahead to the service desk. A friendly Swede says hejdå to a previous customer and pushes a button under the desk. You hear a buzzing noise and notice a digital display on the wall, two figures in red, showing a two digit number, say 38. You suddenly understand, you oversaw a nummerlapp-automat.
You turn around and see the ticket dispenser close to the entrance door. Just as you decide to walk back to get your ticket, a new – much more skilled – customer comes in and and pulls a ticket. The ticket with the number 38, the one you missed. The person recognizes your desperation when you pull the 39 right after him and totally understands your mistake but pretends not to. Instead he walks straight to the desk and orders a battery change for his wrist watch.
No customer queuing chaos, due to the nummerlapp
Even when it’s a long time to wait in line, Swedes don’t moan or complain. They even keep their mouth shut and eyebrows down when a slow sales assistant is trying to find out how to process a credit card payment from a Sweden visitor.
So, next time you enter a Swedish pharmacy or bank, look out for the ticket dispenser right away!