Saturday, April 30, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons

Over the past four years, there have been any number of times when I have been fed up with this country and ready to hop on the first plane back home.  Someone sneering at my French, lousy customer service, and bad weather were just a few of the things that set me off.  But it's been a long time since I've had that feeling.  Is it because I know I'm already heading home so I'm willing to forgive the little things?  Or is that I've just become so acclimated to how things work that I just shrug and go on, knowing that getting frustrated serves no purpose?

Twice recently, someone cut in front of me in line, one time at the corner market, another time at the open air market and both times, I just let it go.  I have the French skills to make a fuss if I want to but I just couldn't summon the energy to do so.  And both times, the person standing behind me in line was insistent that I say something and prevent this grave injustice from occurring.  The first time, I actually said to the lady behind me that being American, I felt it more polite to rest neutral rather than call the offender out.  And believe it or not, she actually got a chuckle out of that.

All that being said, my skin is not made of steel.  Yesterday, I carefully assessed the lines for home delivery at the big supermarket.  Three registers were open and since you have to pay at least 100 euros to get delivery, most of the shoppers' carts were overflowing.  I contemplated and made my choice, only to have an overtanned lady, who had clearly had too much cosmetic surgery and probably spent more money on her hand bag than I spend on my entire wardrobe in a year, butt in front of me because she realized the line she was in only took cash.  I was all geared up to give it to her but she turned her head and studiously ignored me for the rest of the transaction.   And that's what pissed me off even more.  She knew she was in the wrong but her own self importance justified the action.

Okay, so this incident is not making me change my travel plans.   But it's a good reminder that life in Paris is not as candy coated as I may some day remember it to be.  And woe to the next person who tries to sneak ahead of me in line.  You can expect my cart on your heels and a good tongue lashing to boot.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

When in Rome, do as the Romans do...
When in Paris, act like a b@sta@rd!
I hate this city. I lived there for years and a year ago i moved to "la province". Since then 300 days a year of cloudy/rainy weather, angry people, RATP, (1000s of other drawbacks) are bad memories.
Dear Anne, Paris isn't France and France IS NOT Paris. La joie de vivre is 90km away from "le périph"

Sherry said...

Loved this post. A woman "cut" in front of me at the fish counter today at Monoprix and then proceeded to order about 20 grams of nearly every type of fish. There were two men working at the counter, the other one was gossiping with a customer who didn't buy anything. I let it go, too.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if someone cutting in front one is so grave an offense that deserves this much of ranting! Please forgive and forget...

Anne said...

Anonymous (no. 2): I generally agree with you and that's why I usually hold my peace. It's the cumulative effect of the repeated behavior that got to me yesterday.

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

Haha... I remember those days well....but I still love Paris & miss it too!

Starman said...

I used to just let it go also, but now if someone tries to push in front of me, they get an elbow to the mid-section and I push them out of the way. I do agree with Anonymous No 1.

frenchstage said...

Maybe if u punch her in the face she'll think twice before doing it again. LOL. Have a great trip back home ;)

Mrs. Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Howard said...

Yikes. If it happens again, you don't need to give the person hell. Just quickly jump in front of them with a smirk, then promptly forget their existence while seeing to your business. Sometimes, there are just some etiquette faux pas (especially the ones committed on purpose) you shouldn't just let go, but still handle with more class than the offender.

Paulita said...

Perhaps Parisians need more Buddhist training. I'm sure that sounds confusing, so I'll just tell you that a friend explained this morning about a Buddhist teaching that says if your palm starts to sweat because you are going to meet someone important, then you need to turn around and go back for more teachings. No one person is more important than another because we are all human. I thought that woman in front of you could have used that lesson.

Glimpse Creations said...

Today at Monoprix I stood in line for over 10 mins. Then they finally opened another cash register only to have three women run from the back of the line to the front of the new line!!! This would not happen in Canada!!! ... however I didn't say anything and now wish I had!!!

French Villa said...

Oh, I think that's very frustrating and well worth a rant! It drove me up the wall when I lived in Belgium, and if you managed to keep it together til you could rant on here, well done you! I hate rudeness. I got to the end of my tether when someone let the door slam on me one too many times, but sadly my grasp of the language was not enough to give anyone a telling off.

Sweet Freak said...

Ah oui. I find I can go from euphoria to rage in half a second in Paris. And it *is* because of their blank stares that simultaneously say 'peu import' and challenge you to raise a stink. Bah! Like you said to me, it's not always champagne and chocolate in Paris (but do your best to consume as much of both in your last months there!)

Anonymous said...

This happens all the time in NYC, just happened to me this weekend... people "pretend" not to notice the queue. I find it infuriating since I am always polite and follow the rules of civilized society.

Anonymous said...

Such self importance and "I'm the center of the universe" is so unbecoming.

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