Beware the Behavior Brigade

My boss passed along a great article today about Paris’ battle against oui-oui.

Apparently the city has created an 88-member Behavior Brigade that roams the streets, looking for signs of uncivilized behavior among its citizens. Litterbugs and pet owners can be ticketed and fined up to €450 for their respective droppings.

But the Brigade seems especially focused on more *ahem* liquid litter: Since January, they’ve handed out more than 1,100 tickets for “public acts of hygiene.”

“There’s a lack of civility,” said Jean-Pierre Rebete, one member of the Brigade.

I couldn’t agree with him more.

One need not hop across the pond to see the evidence, either.

Last night I found myself in the waiting room of an urgent care clinic. Never mind what ailed me; it paled in comparison to the discomfort of having to be confined in The Museum of the Uncivil.

Behind me was a young woman whose loud electronics would have impressed Axl Rose. In the half hour I spent there, she had three animated phone conversations, each punctuated by several text message alerts. I wonder whether she knows that she’s gifted with an unnaturally resonant voice.

Then there was the guy to my right—the one with the tubercular whoop—whose head mimicked an oscillating fan every time he coughed. Back and forth it swiveled as he hacked away. Oh, if only he would have thought to cover his mouth!

Taking a leak in the middle of the street is indeed a show of bad manners, but so are the hundreds of minor discourtesies to which we subject each other every day. Imagine how much less stressful it would be to drive, for example, if only folks would occasionally yield.

Some of my friends tease me about my manners. (Today I thanked someone who evicted me from a conference room.) But I guess I’d rather err on the side of being too polite than step onto that slippery slope and someday find myself afoul of the Behavior Brigade.

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