The streets in Venice are paved with big rectangular stones, they are placed one next to the other, and they create a sort of irregular chessboard. It goes without saying that Venetian kids are divided into two subgroups: the line-walkers and the empty-walkers, that is those who only walk on the lines and want to avoid the inside of the stone, and those who avoid the side-lines and walk only in the empty spaces.
You can easily tell who is who: empty-walkers jump from one stone to the other, because you can only step on the stone once and sometimes stones are longer than the kid’s step; while line-walkers actually walk in a perfect line, and often have their arms wide open, not to fall off their line.
What both kind of kids have in common is that they are left behind by their parents, because to respect a rule while walking takes time and attention.
A similar thing happens in churches: there are two categories of people, those who do not really pay attention to the gravestones paving the floor, and the line-walkers, who try to avoid stepping on a tomb.
Lately have I noticed that there is a dichotomy also in Frankfurt: those who avoid stepping on the stumbling stones on sidewalks, and those who do not really pay attention to what their feet step upon. You can recognize the first ones because they might take longer steps randomly or step a bit to the side and then get back to the center.
I guess grandmothers were right when telling us to “watch your step”, but sometimes it is even more interesting to watch others’ step, and understand to which group they belong.
*Susanna Calimani is a wandering economist currently based in Frankfurt.