It was a slow evening at my local McDonald’s when I dropped by on my way home. I walked in on four customers loitering in the middle of the floor and when one of the girls said “Next!”, I discovered I was the next. People back away from the counter while waiting for their food, you see, which is why everyone looked like they were possibly waiting for an available cash register.
I guess I need to explain the phenomenon that is Norwegian queueing: There isn’t any. Norwegians clump around a cash register the way flies clump on a lump of feces. I can remember hating that habit when I visited the bank back in the day. Yes, they’d clump around you at the teller window. At the doctor’s window and the ATM, they at least stand back about a meter. The only time I see an actual line is at the grocery store, simply because it’s hard to clump with shopping carts.
So, at McDonald’s, people will order at the counter, then move aside or away from it to make room for others in line (that is, fellow clumpers who joined the clump after you) while waiting for their order. There was no one behind me in line, so I didn’t back away. I waited by the counter and noticed three new employees. They were discussing lunch breaks (which in this case meant eating at 6 pm). The girl who waited on me noticed me noticing them, and laughed in my direction. I was watching her because she had the name Dolly in longhand tattooed on the left side of her neck. I finally had to ask her about it.
She happily told me that she had had it done in Thailand. She had written it herself. Her name, her handwriting (and it was nice handwriting). I asked if it hurt, but she said what hurt were the tattoos filled in with color, because those involve a lot of scratching. She had such a tattoo on her ankle, a little butterfly. It took half an hour and she got sick from the pain. The signature on her neck took only 15 minutes, traced twice. Just as she thought she was going to get ill again, the tattooist was done. Whew!
Certainly not a tattoo she’ll ever see on someone else. Neither will I.