Defining France

8 03 2010

It’s only fair that I justify my lament of The French, Not France.

Incident 1)
While on the umpteenth train en route from Venice, we were on a high-speed train from Nice to Paris.
Famished from running around all day, the dining car opened and we bee-lined.
Looking at the menu and trying to be courteous* we approached the French Lunch Lady (FLL).
I ordered, in French, a salad combo. All of the items were prepackaged. The combo was a  salad, choice of side, choice of beverage and choice of dessert. Having requested an animal-free salad, fruit cup, mousse and lemonade, I felt good to go.
FLL, however, had other ideas. Shouting over the rail noise, she informed me, a francais, there were no salads, only club sandwiches.
In French, I agreed.
In French, she tells me they have no fruit cups. I can have two desserts.
In French, I agree and opt for the apple crisp and mousse.

At our seat, I remark to Steve, “You k now what would make this sandwich AWESOME? MUSTARD.”
“Well, go up and get some.”
Meanwhile, FLL is in a tizzy and had garnered the attention of one of the conductors.
In French, she asks if she can help me.
“Moo-stard?” I ask, racking the memory bank for French-for-mustard.
“Excuse-moi?”
“Moo-stard? Um, Dijon?”, I ask, nodding.
She claps her hands, in understanding, and pulls out some salt and pepper.
“Non.”, I shake my head. “Moo-stard, dijoin, ketchup et…”
Once again,  she acts like she knows what I’m talking about. She approaches me with a large brown bag and picks out…. a roll. And hands it to me, as in “take it! take it!”

Retreating to my seat, Steve asks just how I ended up with a roll.
“Well, did you pay for it?”
“Um, no…”
“You should probably check to make sure you don’t have to.”

So back up to FLL I go.
“Excuse-moi? Un pain, c’est gratis?”… damnit, What’s French-for-Free….
She tells me, in French, that the bathrooms are free and through the doors.
“Non non. Un, um, baguette… c’est baguette.. c’est gratis?”,  I ask her.
In French, she tells me that we overpaid for our sandwiches.
“The bread you gave me. Is it free?”, I ask in English, just to be sure.
“Que?” (French for “what?”)
At this point, I knew she was Fucking With The Tourist and I go sit down.

Steve goes up and while ordering beer (ewwwww, 1664!) asks, in French, if we owe for the the roll and he gets the same treatment
*1) you’re in someone else’s country, the least you can do is try to speak their language.
2) Even our elementary level French should allow us to order the essentials: Food, beer, hotel room.

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4 responses

10 03 2010
Dennis the Vizsla

Now this reminds me of the episode of “The Tick” where Brainchild turned the Tick into a bird that could only speak high school French …

10 03 2010
Stephanie of Stopbouncing

high school french or not, even when tourist are in your area, their broken-third-grade-English is enough to get them where they need to go.
BECAUSE WE’RE NOT PRETENTIOUS. Oh, sorry, indoor voice.

14 03 2010
Tony

My High School french is so long forgotten I would only have been able to ask FLL “voulez vous couche avec moi” from the song, which I am told means “do you want to come to bed with me?”. Would I get a free bread roll with it???

14 03 2010
Stephanie of Stopbouncing

Pretty sure you’d get SOMETHING Tony.

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