Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

France 2008 - Paris, May 13

After our much-needed nap that wasn't nearly long enough, we change and walk out onto the streets of Paris. I have lived in Europe (but a long time ago) but this was Peter's first trip and our first trip together so it was all new and good. We had a map of the city and just decided to walk in one direction and then another, covering some of the Marais in the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements.

I start developing a theory of Parisiens, working against the stereotype that they are rude. Of course, you get rude people wherever you go but my generalisations lead me to a theory that Parisiens just "Do". They don't ask permission, they don't say "do you mind if...", they only obey the rules if they must (and the rules make sense). However, they do say "excusez moi" If they bump into you and they say "Bonjour" when you enter their shops. What I don't feel is an overweening sense of entitlement that I sometimes get in North America.

Peter opines that because they live in a large, congested city (he has been reading up on Paris and it has the greatest population density of any European city, according to "France for Dummies" which we left there, rather than carry it home so I can't look it up), they have limited resources and just want to make things work. If officious people came along all the time and told them not to park on the sidewalk for just five minutes, the level of frustration would explode. When they do park on the sidewalk to unload something, they don't expect anyone to accommodate them. They just do what they have to and move on. And yet, we don't see people taking advantage of lack of rule enforcement, maybe because they know the few could spoil it for the many.

Unfortunately, my laissez-faire opinion of them to the good does not extend to their resolute refusal to even acknowledge that their dogs poop. I have watched them (and the Brits too, I must say) stand and stare at anything but their dog while their dog poops and then nonchalantly stroll away leaving the evidence behind. Of course some people do this in North America but more people pick up I think than not, judging by the evidence. It is likely one reason that they have street sweepers out every day. The street sweepers really do keep the place clean and that's appreciated. But I wonder if that's why dog owners don't pick up - because they can get away with it.
France 2008
As for this bit of evidence, not only do I not know how it got up there, but I would guess the motorized street sweepers didn't get it the next morning.

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