One of the great pleasures of living here is that one can observe, at first hand, the behaviours of different nationalities and cultures. Forget all that oh it’s a generalisation stuff, generalisations are generally accurate. Let’s take the matter of pedestrian-crossing etiquette. Firstly, one has to assume that a car has stopped at a crossing, which, if the car is being driven by a local or German, it probably hasn’t. But therein lies part of the rub, I suspect.
Your Brit, used to gestures of courtesy and used to cars stopping, is the most effusive when it comes to what I’ll call PCE. Car stops, Brit crosses, hand is raised, waved, kept raised, kept waved, head nodded in thanks. Partly this is probably because your Brit knows not to expect the car to stop, so the demonstrative show of thanks is all the more extravagant.
And then there’s your German. Car stops. Tentative movement of feet. Po-faced, the German PCE involves progressing at moderate pace whilst all the time staring at the driver. No hand raised, well maybe occasionally, but otherwise just staring. Now this is not rude, it is a German trait, staring that is, but the PCE is also a manifestation of the fact that a car stopping is not high on the agenda.
And then there is the Spaniard’s PCE. Car stops. No movement. Look bewildered. Finally advance - slowly. Make no acknowledgement whatsover. Stop halfway, get out mobile phone, or simply engage someone coming the other way in conversation. Ignore the sound of car horns.
Don’t believe me? You should.
Yesterday - Style Council, “(The) Long Hot Summer”. Today’s title - an album from?
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