By Betsy Mayer
I vividly remember my first visit to Rome. Strangely, what struck me the most was the Italian idea of a red light. At red lights, we slowed, but we didn’t stop. We just kept oozing until cars or busses that were bigger than us brought us to a halt; once we were back to cars our own size, we threaded our way through the mayhem to the other side.
Accidents were common. It wasn’t unusual to see two drivers outside their cars, fists raised, yelling at each other in punctuated Italian.
Our host was an American who had lived in Italy for several years. Remembering our American sensibilities to traffic law and order, he tried to explain the Italian perspective on traffic lights: “In Rome, traffic lights are not absolutes; they’re just good suggestions.”
It’s not hard to recognize a society with a casual attitude towards
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Betsy Mayer is the managing editor of Last Generation magazine.