However, there is one thing above all others that Europeans--especially the French--do do much better than Americans. And that's riding escalators.
For some reason that mystifies, baffles, frustrates and, frequently, totally fucking infuriates me, Americans don't know how to ride escalators. They don't seem to know that simple Golden Rule of escalator use: If you're standing still, then stand to the right, keeping the left side of the stairs open to those who wish to walk. Simple, right? Common courtesy, basic logic. Promotes the flow of people, keeps everybody happy. OBVIOUS, RIGHT?
In the Parisian metro, in the British tube, in airports all over Europe, the rule is respected with impeccable cross-cultural regularity. It's the universal language of escalator etiquette. Everyone just gets it. Not in a rush? Stand right. Gotta go fast? Great--because the left-hand corridor just happens to be moving rapidly, a beautiful flow of like-minded bodies who don't have time to dick around.
Americans seem to have missed that day in school, because people around here just don't get it. How many mornings do I lunge out of the subway at Columbus Circle, with 2.45 minutes to get to work in order to achieve ideal arrival time and both rows of bodies on the escalator are standing still? Or, worse yet--yes, much worse--one little doltish body is standing stupidly in the left hand corridor, blocking aaaaaaalllll the traffic behind it, while a clear corridor of unimpeded stairs lie ahead of it, but it never occurs to the dolt simply to step aside into its universally designated row of unmoving people? Galling, enraging, mind-boggling, I tell you.
But I have a solution. I propose licensing escalator use. I'll create a Department of Moving Stairs (DMS), and those wishing to access the delight of moderity that is the escalator, will study a short manual on riding escalators, take a short quiz and then receive a license. easy.
Really easy, because there's only one sentence, one rule in the manual: Move To The Fucking Right.