Yesterday I took our dog out for a long and lovely walk around the block and stopped for fresh bread just out of the oven . There was a little line-up of about 5 ladies so I joined it and happily waited for my turn at the window. Suddenly an elderly man (NOT a gentleman by any stretch) came along and walked right up to the front of the line and plucked down his coins and was handed his bread.
"Hummmmmph" I thought, "Something's just not right about this".
"Excuse me Sir, don't you think you should go to the back of the line and wait your turn just like everyone else????" I asked. In English. Everyone turned around and looked at me, a big, blond, foreign women ranting and wagging her pointer finger.
"Madam" I asked the ladies around me, "Why do you put up with this treatment, this- this lack of respect?"
"Po, po," (something in Albanian about "Yes, yes we get no respect"), muttered one sweet old lady.
Aha, thought I-- I am on the right track about this.
A young woman looked at me and asked "What is your name?" I wondered to myself what the heck did she want to know that for, but I told her my name anyway. Then I thought what's fair is fair and I asked her for her name. "Luciana" she said. "So Luciana, do you speak English?" "No" she replied. So that ended that.
Then again- another man came along and went right to the front of the line. I tapped him on his shoulder and once again asked him what he thought he was doing. The ladies all murmered 'prapa', the Albanian word for behind. But it fell on deaf ears and the man walked away. I was fuming and quickly thinking of starting an Albanian Feminist Movement.
I finally got my bread and walked home feling quite thrilled with my little therapeutic temper tantrum.
Later in the afternoon my cleaning girl arrived and I told her what I had experienced. "Why do you Albanian women put up with this kind of treatment? I asked.
"Mrs. Kim", she replied, "In our tradition we have two lines for bread, one for the men, and one for the women. And we take turns, man- woman, man-woman."
"Oh" said I, "That's logical."
And I felt rather silly for having made such a scene on the street.