One reader, Harold Flagg, offered us and our readers some tips for being polite while traveling abroad: (Thanks Harold!)
When dealing with the ultra-polite French, always include their title: Thank you, m'sieur (or sir), for example. One more tip: tie a bright cloth on your pick-up bag and it will make the pick-up easier. I once made a hit with an American trying to take possession of her baggage in Paris. All I had to say was: "Pardon, m'sieur, mais madame voudrait avoir sa baggage par la" and pointed at her baggage." I completely forgot that I don't speak French, at least not well. And the baggage attendant forgave my slightly fractured Franglish.
I also liked the way a Buckingham Palace lady-in-waiting thanked me for my book which I mailed to Queen Elizabeth II. The note on palace stationery concluded: "I am commanded by The Queen to thank you and thank you once again." Sort of makes me feel that the age of chivalry and niceness is still alive and kicking.