27 April 2010

Sixty Million Frenchmen . . .

. . . Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not the French by Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow is changing my life!  I'm not very far along in the book, but already I'm learning about so many of the mistakes I make and why when I think I'm being friendly or polite I've completely rubbed someone the wrong way or broken social rules.

If you've ever been interested in understanding more about the French mentality and the deep rooted cultural and historical causes behind so many of their national opinions, or just breaking through stereotypes, I would highly . . . no, HIGHLY recommend this book.  It's lightly written with plenty of anecdotes and interesting tidbits that keep it flowing nicely.

Unfortunately I haven't yet arrived at the chapter that explains away my experience at the post office.


But today was another interesting culture and language lesson.  A bunch of us spent the day having a picnic in the gardens of Versailles.  We took the bus home from the train station, and about halfway home the bus came to a complete stop in the middle of a roundabout.  The driver had pulled up next to a little car and he began speaking with it's operator.  The man in the little car was clearly not happy with the bus driver, and the bus driver was clearly not happy with him.

As the two continued their heated discussion (which included the man driving the car taking down the bus's plate numbers and calling the police, and the bus driver attempting to pull away in order to carry on his work), several passengers came to the aide and defense of our bus driver.  The man in the little car was in the wrong and they were going to let him know it.

What had happened was the man was in the wrong lane of the roundabout and was trying to make a left exit, but the bus pulled up next to him preventing him from crossing two lanes to complete his turn.  He got mad and tried to wedge the bus out of the way . . . while there was no collision, little car man thought he could actually overtake the bus and when that didn't happen he got out of his car and stepped in front of the bus in order to hinder us from going further and to carry out his discourse with the bus driver.

All of us then waited quietly about 15 minutes while the two argued . . . I mean four, let's not forget the two men that came to the driver's defense.

After much banter, we were off again.  Little car drove around the roundabout again, and we exited on to complete our route.  Other than a bit of camaraderie building between the bus driver and his newly found defendants, not really sure what the point was.  Guess little car man had something to prove or something to say.

But, truth be told, all I really want to know is, where were these guys when I needed them in the post office?!?!

2 comments:

Bethany said...

i love the gardens at Versailles. i bet they're so BEAUTIFUL now!! great story too...

Bethany said...

i love the gardens at Versailles. i bet they're so BEAUTIFUL now!! great story too...