Things the French Don't Do, Vol.2
My first day in Lyon, back when I was interviewing, I dropped of my luggage and immediately went out for a walk, trying both to reset the biological clock and make the most of the limited free time I had available. I walked a block from the hotel to Place Bellecour and breathed it all in: The cathedrals, the mansard roofs, the cafes, the statues...and the reek of dogplop I'd just dead-centered with my right shoe.
People here love their dogs, right? Not only do they bring their dogs into fancy restaurants, the dogs receive more attentive service than your typical anglophone diner. There are dogs on the Metro, the bus, and the tram, even though this is theoretically interdit. Part of this undying love of dogs is the belief that they have the right to drop their precious little brown business anywhere they want, even if--especially if--it's the middle of the sidewalk.
There are efforts afoot (heh) to convince people to at least usher Fifi to the gutter when the tail starts to wag in that certain way (see picture). But the overall solution is very French: create a government sub-agency whose taxpayer-funded responsibility it is to come clean up the poop once a week. On our street, it's Sunday when the guys in green jumpsuits come to cart off the turds to...wherever they take them. By the following Saturday, though, pedestrians are demonstrating the strange skipping walk of the Frenchman who's learned to subconsciously avoid the piles of reprocessed Purina. I've picked up some of this skill myself; the trick is to use your lower peripheral vision to continuously scan the sidewalk for dark patches. There are false-positives when you find yourself skipping left to avoid a fallen leaf, for example, but on the whole it works pretty well.
Or maybe I'm just shopping in the wrong stores (like Banana-Hammocks-R-Us).