Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Babies, Bumps and Queue-Jumps

It's about time I got me another baby.  Not because I adore the sticky lickle munchkins, but because I need a legit way to barge queues.

In Brazil, if you are pregnant or with a small child, you do not have to wait in line.  Not for anything, anywhere, ever.  At the post-office, the supermarket or passing through customs, checking-in, checking-out or cashing a cheque.  You can simply waltz straight to the front of the line, or, in many places, to the dedicated express desk exclusively for priority citizens.

And it's not like this is just some kind of unwritten rule in a chivalrous society.  This is a fully blown "priority law" that is posted on sign-posts everywhere, and which also applies to the elderly, the sick and the handicapped.  Accordingly, for the past four years, I have pretty much skipped to the front of every line I have encountered.

It takes some getting used to.  I didn't dare skip any queues until I was visibly pregnant with my first born, even although it's during those first few invisible weeks when you really need the 'get out of here without throwing-up' card.  But once I'd done it a few times I became quite confident. So confident, in fact, that over the past few years I have had quite a few near fist-fights while asserting my legal rights.

With my second baby I started jumping to the front right from the start of the pregnancy, and more than a few times I was challenged by check-out girls.  One told me I had to be 5 months pregnant to get priority, which is simply not true.  Another told me I needed to carry proof of pregnancy.  Really?  She wants me to hand over a positive pee-stick with a credit card? There is also a general belief that people have to be on their own to benefit from the priority pass, which is also not the case. (I'm talking about the legal standpoint not the ethical one!)

But the real altercations occur within the blessed ranks of priority citizens themselves.  You see, the law doesn't make it very clear who gets priority if there is an old woman, a pregnant woman and a handicapped woman in the same line;
"Hey I"m dying"
"Out of my way, my waters just broke"
"Can't you see, I have no legs?"
Once, swear to god, I was hit by an old lady during one of these type of ridiculous arguments, and I was holding a 2 month old infant.  Of course I think the living dead are the clear winners in the priority stakes, but I also think that whoever is skipping the queue should at least proffer a vaguely apologetic smile at the other people waiting.  On this particular occasion I was waiting to change the baby's nappy in an aircraft loo when a Brazilian granny pushed past, head down to avoid eye contact, and slammed the door in my face.  When she came out and I commented on her rudeness, she started screaming and hitting me. Goes to show that you can legislate, but you can't force good manners on anyone.

Anyway, my Little Dove is almost two, going on sixteen, and I definitely can't consider her a 'crianca de colo' ('lap baby') anymore.  Suddenly she's lost her value as an expediator of tedious chores like the post-office, bank and federal police.  But I love the sticky lickle munchkin anyway.


  1. "the living dead". hahaha!
    My husband doesn't agree with the fact that seniors can cut in line. He always says, "they're retired!!! What else do they have to do!? They're in no rush!"

    I can't believe one hit you, though!

  2. @Danielle
    Danielle I think your husband makes a very good point!

  3. Natasha, is that you with a doll up your front? You look like Louisa when she is pretending to be pregnant!!

  4. Yeah, just as Maweena's "colo-ness" started wearing out, my bump just started showing. I don't know what I'm going to do in 2 yrs time when I, like you, run out of the excuse!