One of the greatest benefits of country walks around Barcelona is the break they provide from street rage induced by the complete lack of interest shown by urban pavement users in the needs of others.

The conventional explanation is that bumping is the result of a different sense of the relationship between self and society, so Fukuyama and Landes and all that stuff. I think this is why Stefan Geens attributes predatory seating in Swedish branches of McDonalds to a hitherto undetected Gallic streak in the national character:

Southern Europeans expect and tolerate more selfish behavior in social contexts, whereas those of the anglo-saxon persuasion expect and tolerate their behavior being constrained for the common good.

This may provide a partial explanation in the case of Barcelona, but I’m also tempted by an ownership hypothesis – “We paid for these pavements, so get the hell out of our way.” For example, while foreigners are scolded when they don’t keep to the right (I saw it happen to a dreamy Dominican yesterday), when it rains it becomes axiomatic that the alluvial shadow along the edge of buildings belongs to the locals. That’s unless they’ve got umbrellas, in which case the only sensible course of action is to retire and await the cavalry.

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