The difference between a major city and a small one is encapsulated in the difference between their traffic lights.
In a small city, all traffic lights are exactly the same color and exactly the same age. Over every intersection, the same number of lights hang, in the same orientation, suspended directly over the intersection, parallel to one another. They always work.
In a major city, traffic lights may be of differing shades and ages. Some are LED-based, others are still bulb-based. Some are on the sides of buildings, while others are on cables and still others on steel fixtures. There may be three in one intersection but just one in the next. One may be on the near side of the intersection and the other on the far side. Some do not work, and some are turned, for inexplicable reasons, to face departing rather than oncoming traffic.
In a major city, nonetheless, almost everyone sees the traffic lights almost all of the time. In a small city, they often miss the traffic lights and commit traffic violations, despite the clarity and uniformity of their emplacement.
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In a small city, people waiting for lights at intersections are unreflective, suspended in time, in rhythm, in flow.
In a major city, people waiting for lights at intersections seem uneasy, trapped inside their automobiles while vaguely aware of the fact that around them, there may be no eyes or there may be hundreds of eyes watching them. Anything could happen at any moment. They are not suspended in time; they are living in real time, heightened time, taut and aware.
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In a small city, dogs are sleepy and late-night walks are perfunctory.
In a major city, dogs on late-night walks reflect on their identities, the plight of their species, and the future of companion animals.
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In a small city, nights lie in between days.
In a major city, nights are the latter halves of days.
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In a small city, you are present.
In a major city, the city is present.
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At the most fundamental level, there is nothing else that needs to be known in order to understand the difference between major cities and small cities.