Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 140: Following the Rules

Despite being told by my supervisor that Brits don't care to follow rules, but are slaves to social convention, I have noticed a distinctive trend of rule-following here. Much more so than in the States. Even if the reason behind the rule is not understood. The fact that it is a rule is enough. This pervades all areas of life, including the following:

* transportation - public transport operators are more liable to be lenient in the States. I have often been allowed onto a bus in the States where I have incorrect change, my swipe card is low, or have even forgotten my fares (my husband hates this). I can also often hale a bus down inbetween stops. Not here, not even a chance. Jay-walking is the same. If you attempt to cross the street where there is no "humped zebra crossing" (this is not a joke - "zebra" intermittent stripes indicate to drivers that they are approaching a pedestrian crosswalk, or causeway, and "humps" are our "speed bumps") or other signs of a causeway, watch out! I have nearly been run over half a dozen times, particularly by their large coaches (fancy buses which travel long distances). However, if you find a causeway, if you even think about crossing, taxis and other cars will stop, and quite quickly.

* shoppes closing - Shoppes close quite early here. Even then, if a store closes at 5:00 p.m. or so, they often will not allow customers in at 4:55 and literally can close tills (even if customers want to buy something) at 5:00 p.m. Very different from the States, where, as long as you enter a store before it "closes" you are safe and can quickly find and pay for your purchases.

* libraries - there is a distinctive library culture here. People don't seem to buy too many books. Instead, they go to a library and read the books there, copying down portions which they need (very few libraries allow lending). Because of this distinctive library culture, even books that are purchased are not marked. In fact, doing so is seen as offensive. I am notorious for marking my books, and always get sly looks when I am in public. Two of my supervisors - one from the summer and one from my time here at Oxford - do not mark their purchased books. People also do not ever eat in libraries. Of course, eating in libraries is not allowed in the States, but rules are broken there quite frequently.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say that I love the archaic spelling of "shoppe" in this blog. Not sure if you did that intentionally or not, but it's very nice to see it spelled that way! Especially given that you're living in Oxford, where the old spelling is used by lots of shop owners...

    The modern spelling is "shop". However, some shop owners use the old-fashioned spelling either because they're actually very old shops and have never changed the name, or because they're trying to appear old and quaint/charming. I think it's lovely to discover old-fashioned shops in Oxford - there's one very close to my flat that I recently discovered and I could spend hours in there! If the old-fashioned spelling is intended to add charm to a place, it certainly works on me! I'm a sucker for dusty old English shoppes!