Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The 15 year bitch

A couple days ago, someone asked me how long I'd been living in France. I couldn't remember. Has it been 15 years? 16 years? 14 years? I couldn't remember at first, but I also couldn't figure out when I really started living here. Was it during my junior semester abroad or was it when I came here after graduating from college or was it when I moved to Lille? The best I could do was "most of the past 15 years".


And, those 15 years along with my dual citizenship, give me the right to criticize and make the overarching stereotypical statements about French people that are about to follow...

Maybe I'm just having an anti-French moment, but I have been seething with annoyance for the past couple weeks.

First on the list of french annoyances is "c'est pas possible". Why is it that anything outside the norm is not possible? why is it impossible to have mustard instead of mayonnaise on my sandwich? why would the idiot in Giverny not sell me just the hotdog without the bread since I was going to throw the bread out anyway even after I explained it was for my daughter who was on a gluten free diet? Part of it is annoyance at having to adapt to the customer, but some of it is thinking in the customer's place. The sausage girl told me she couldn't sell me the sausage sans bread. why why why I asked. She said, "c'est pour vous...ça fait cher pour une saucisse." Well, if I'm willing to pay for it, then it's my problem...

Second on the list is self-righteousness and lack of respect for others. Standing under a nosmoking sign smoking. Letting your dog poop right under a clean up after your dog sign. Parking in front of someone's garage. Peeing on someone's garage door. All of these examples come from the Frenchman/woman's belief that their personal rights come before the general well being of others. It pisses me off to no end. Lack of respect of rules and lack of respect of other's makes me want to punch people.

Third is snobbiness about the French language. My parents, the kids and I were staying at my favorite hotel in Paris. We decided to eat at the lovely restaurant out in the courtyard garden. We were given English menus which meant less work for me. But when the waitress came over, I ordered une carafe de minervois. she looked at me like I was speaking jibberish. Pardon? she said. So I repeated and she spoke in near perfect English. so I thought, hey, she's not French. But then I heard her speaking French to someone else. so when she came back, I ordered my meal in French figuring maybe she just didn't expect me to speak in French. Once again, she couldn't understand me and gave me a look like I was green and speaking jibberish. The fact was, she just didn't want me to speak french at all. She made it very clear. I felt like slapping her and saying listen girly, my French is damn good, better than your English so don't give me that shit. But I didn't...I just shot bullets out of my eyes.

And lastly, dog crap. What more can I say?

I hope that one day I will always have enough American in me to respect others, to clean up after myself and to clean up after myself and to always respect difference.

4 comments:

meredith said...

Ha! I was at a fête de village down here in the south of France and I wanted a hotdog sandwich with ketchup and mustard, but without the hot dog (I don't like them and there was nothing else to eat). The vendor was so bewildered that she gave it to me for free, probably because I had ordered 3 "normal" ones for my family.

Leah said...

Preach on, sista! I totally get you on the lack of respect for rules thing. It's that chacun pour soi attitude that I feel like sadly even exists amongst friends here. I have a friend who will drop me off two corners away from my street because if she drove up the street near my place, she'd have to do "demi tour." I really think it's because it would cost her a couple minutes and a few centimes more of gas! I think the "c'est pas possible" can go along with that too. They think, "why should I go out of my way to help you?" Uh, maybe because it's your job?

The French language thing I totally get too. I went to the doctor today and she knew I was foreign because she had asked me last time(I always get nervous at the doctor's and it affects my French.) Even though I speak fluent French, she was all like "on se comprend"? Yeah, I understand everything you're saying which is why I'm able to answer your 5,000 questions you're rapid-firing at me. Duh.

Btw, I just got back from America and England, so your post totally hit home for me. I'm a bit Anti-France at the moment if you can't tell! Hang in there!!

Reb said...

Damn, I forgot the clincher. My car was broken into again; In front of my house. they didn't take anything, just felt like smashing the window. My husband yelled out the window when he saw the hooligan trying to break into the car and the guy took off...asshole

Leah said...

Seriously...if you're going to break into a car, at least have a (good) reason!

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