One advantage of a well-used public transit system is that you get to see people giving up their seats for other people on the bus, men for women and women for other women, and then sometimes the venerable lady declines because she’s getting off in two stops. It reminds me that ritual, politeness, whatever you want to call it, need not be a mask (or a masque?).
Though Paris has its share of fast and savagely lawful streets, there are also many streets where the drivers will stop for pedestrians when they sense the pedestrian green light coming on soon.
Maybe it’s the Old World feel. On the other hand, I don’t often see teenagers giving up their seats, and I wonder where this all is coming from. One might be tempted to connect this to the success of McDonald’s in France, attributing this apparent loss of manners to infiltration by the American fast culture, except I hear McDonald’s is actually a place to go out and hang around, not just a place to fill up your estomac with a super-sized order and go.
A complicated globalization. Well, I think Paris is in little danger of becoming the bad things that America is, though it may keep some of those good things that remain in the slower parts of middle America, with good food to boot.