Four Persian drivers at an intersection

Rob Beschizza explains where following the Persian tradition of tarof can end up.

Tarof is the Persian etiquette of deference, wherein one must both yield to others (you first!) and decline the offer (no, you!). One may not insist or accept until the end of the line–at least in this hilarious parody by Simon Garshasebi–so what happens when a circle forms?


  1. Trickster Goddess says

    In my taxi driving days I would get frustrated by drivers who arrived at four-way stops before me but seemed uncertain about whether or not to proceed, which lead me to develop the philosophy of “he who hesitates is last.”

  2. Matt G says

    I laughed in spite of myself! I inadvertently sabotaged a relationship with a Persian woman by not understanding this. I took her to dinner and a concert, and prepared to pay. She said she would pay for herself and I made the mistake of letting her.

  3. Mano Singham says


    Near my house, there is an intersection in which one street has no stop signs and the other does. I approach the intersection on the street that has the stop signs but surprisingly often, a car that is going along the other street and does not have a stop sign will stop anyway, as if they thought they had one, and wait for me to proceed because I got there first. This puts me in a really awkward position, because now if I go through and there is an accident, I am clearly in the wrong. So I go through v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

  4. Trickster Goddess says

    I just had an encounter this evening as a pedestrian at a four-way stop. As I was approaching the intersection, a car arrived just before me on my side of the street. After a full stop he went through then I started crossing in the crosswalk. However the car behind him didn’t stop and rolled across the stop line and into the crosswalk just a few steps in front of me. I yelled at the driver and after he continued through, I finished crossing. When I got to the other side, I glanced over my shoulder and saw that the car had pulled over and the driver was getting out. Crap. I was hurrying to catch a bus and I didn’t have time to deal with someone’s road rage.

    “Hey!” he yelled at me. I ignored him and kept walking. “Hey, you!” he yelled again. “What?” I shouted back. “I sorry about that,” he said.

    It wasn’t what I was expecting. It took a moment to shift my mental gears. “Okay” I replied. Beat. Then: “Thanks for apologizing.”

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