12 September 2009

One Small Blunder, One Giant Victory

The public transportation here is fantastic! At least that's what I thought before I arrived. Okay, it really is very reliable and logical, and the buses all have maps of the route and helpful tidbits clearly posted and easy to understand. The problem is that I still don't speak or read French yet, so I have to rely on the generosity of others willing to share this fantastic knowledge.

I've been buying my bus tickets on the bus. 1euro70. That's each time I get on a bus . . . even to transfer. But, as I found out on Wednesday, if you buy tickets in packs of 10 they come out to 1euro15 each and you can transfer once with that same ticket onto any other bus within an hour and a half of when it was validated!

So, I wanted to buy some bus tickets. I knew I could buy them at the bus office at a train station 20 minutes away, so I figured I'd just get them whenever I go there again. But as we were all walking to the library yesterday, my Aussie fellow student was telling his wife where to get the tickets (closer) and the correct pronunciation for "I'd like to buy a book of 10 bus tickets": Jay-vou-tray an carnay an tee-kay du bous. So I practiced the mantra in my head. After the library I went with this woman and another friend to a little shop (Tobac . . . they are everywhere, it's the place to go for magazines, cigarettes, lotto tickets, and refill cards on pay-as-you-go-phones) to buy the tickets. I kept saying in my head: Jay-vou-tray an carnay an tee-kay du bous. Jay-vou-tray an carnay an tee-kay du bous. Katherine got up and perfectly said Jay-vou-tray an carnay an tee-kay du bous. What I should have said was: Pour moi, aussi, s'il vous plait (the same for me, please), but what came out was: Jaaaay-vou . . . tray . . . an . . . carnay . . . an ticket-ay . . . du bus. The lady behind the till was neither impressed nor entertained. I got my tickets and joined my friends outside the shop who were laughing very hard. "I said ticket-ay didn't I?" "YES YOU DID!!!" Unlike Spanglish, in French, you just can't add an ending onto an English word and expect everyone to understand!

But from there we need to head into another shop and each pick up a few things. In most stores in France, you bring your own bags, or you pay for one (anywhere from a few cents to a euro). So as we were going through, I said, in perfect French, Jay-vous-tray an sac, s'il vous plait. And what did the lady behind the till do?? She pulled out a bag and handed it to me!! She didn't look at me like I had seven heads. No, she simply did what I asked. VICTORY!!!!

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