This story is a direct reaction to an earlier post making the argument that people need to respect local customs when traveling abroad. While I agree that this is indeed good advice, I can’t help but wonder at how we as foreigners should go about differentiating between what constitutes local custom and what is simply rudeness on behalf of the locals.
For the past year or so, I have been living as an expatriate in a foreign country working for a French company. Every day I take the metro on my way to work and every day I go through the same experience: I wait patiently on the platform and when the train arrives I make a choice: if I’m taking the metro for more than one stop, I will enter first and proceed down the aisle so that other people get a chance to get on as well; if however I only ride it for one stop, I’ll let everyone else go in first and be among the last people to enter the car.This entails the risk of not being able to get in at all if there are too many people waiting but I do it anyway because I feel that it is normal to consider others’ well-being when using public transportation.
The local population has a very different behavioral pattern: they go in first and stop near the door so that they are also first to get out. This can be extremely irritating as they block everyone else from getting on, often making it that people are left waiting for the next metro when there is plenty of room left. Every day I am tempted to say something and finally decide against it.
I realize that it’s not my place to teach people how to behave properly in public, especially since I am a guest in their country, but I can’t be the only person to think that this type of behavior goes far beyond simple local custom. This is sheer rudeness and lack of consideration of others and should not be tolerated only because everybody else in this country does it.
I would like to ask for the advice of your readers. Do I say something or do I simply shut up and put up for the time I have left living here (which is a pretty long time by the way)?
Thank you. 0627-12
There are some things in life you will never be able to change. All you can do is change yourself.