Thursday, April 30, 2009
Attention Miss Manners
Calling someone "mal élevé" (badly raised) is a pretty serious insult here, indicating the importance that good manners and politeness have in French society. That being said, the transport authorities seem to be having a devil of a time getting people to behave. Posters, decals, and signs of all types have been popping up on the métro, buses, and RER (suburban) trains of late. Don't block the doors, validate your ticket, don't take the seats designated for the elderly and disabled and for heaven's sake, no more than two unfolded strollers per bus!
Keeping people from exiting keeps the train from being on time.
Preparing my exit eases my disembarkment.
From recent experience, I can honestly say that no one pays attention to any of this, perhaps no different from those folks on the subway in DC who bury their heads in their book when it seems they might be asked to give up their seat to an infirm older person or a hugely pregnant woman. Just today, I saw a woman brazenly take a seat on the bus for her bag, apparently to facilitate her ability to eat her lunch, while a blind man and a lady of 80 something jockeyed for seats in the rear.
Of all these posters, the one I liked best is the one I saw in London earlier this month:
Perhaps the Brits and the French are more alike than they'd ever care to admit.