One of the things that I appreciate about France is that the French treat their citizens as if they have common sense and can think for themselves. Some examples:
- Recently, the news in the US was full of the fact that so many “love locks” had been attached to the Pont des arts bridge in Paris that the railing along the side had fallen down. While waiting for it to be repaired, the French authorities put a rope in front of the fallen section of railing. I’m pretty sure that in America, the entire bridge would have been closed down. From a French perspective: what kind of idiot would walk off the side of a bridge? You’re not stupid enough to do that, and even if you are, should I block off the entire bridge for everyone?
- I was recently sitting up late at night (well, late for me, which means it was probably about 9 PM) with a bunch of people in Japan, having a drink. There was an Italian, an Norwegian, a Korean, a Japanese guy, and a French woman–of course, we were speaking English, that being the only language that everyone had in common. One of the guys got up to go take a soak in the onsen, one of the famous Japanese baths. One of the other guys said, “oh, no–you shouldn’t do that when you’ve been drinking!” The French woman’s response was very characteristic: “he’s an adult.” That, my friend, is the essence of France.
- The one road that leads from the train station to my campus is torn up right now due to a construction project. I walked up to the foreman the other day and asked if I could pass through the road. Sure–no problem. In America, the entire road would have been blocked off–here, the foreman just assumed that I would have the sense to walk around the power shovel, rather than under it.
Nothing in life happens without Zipf’s Law coming into play. Here’s the word that I learnt that morning. Definitions from WordReference.com.
- le riverain: inhabitant, local.
- riverain (adj.): bordering, stretching along; riverside, waterside; riparian.