15 June 2010

Not Same Thing

I just got back from the préfecture.  I had some paperwork to take care of, but the office I needed is not opened on Wednesdays (the day we don't have classes) so I missed my afternoon class to make the hour's journey by bus and trains to Évry.  Over the past few weeks I've been painstakingly filling out forms and photocopying documents to make sure I have everything they have asked for and everything they might possibly decide they want when I walk into the office.

Upon arrival at 1:37pm I found that the department I needed was only opened until noon (looks like I'll be missing class Thursday morning).  But since I was there I had a question about another set of documents that I have to send by mail.  I waited in line for half an hour only to receive attitude and sarcasm from the woman behind the desk.  She was so incredibly patronizing that I got really flustered and could barely speak in French.  I sounded something like this:

I have a docier for my visa.  I was told that I send to here . . . this.  But, here, this say to send to Palaiseau préfecture . . . uh, sous-préfecture . . . I lives in Massy, so I sends to Palaiseau.  (She interrupted me, impatiently, and informed me that I could just drop my file in the box to her right.  She looked to the next person.)  But I not it finish already . . . again . . . already . . . yet.  But, I want to be sure I to send here, not Palaiseau.  (She was very annoyed at this point: That's what I told you, Madame.  Put it in the box.)  I not it finish, I mails.  (The look on her face led me to believe that it was my nervous French which drove her to drink: What is it exactly that you want?  Tell me.  Maybe if you could tell me I can do something for you.  But you can't even tell me.  TELL ME!)  I pulled out the document again and showed here where it stated if I live in Massy I should send it to the sous-préfecture in Palaiseau, not the préfecture in Évry: I want to be sure I to send right place.  It say here different than You tell to me . . . it not same thing here . . . not  same thing.  (At this point I'd ruined her day . . . or at least her five minutes.  Her expression said it all:  YOU ARE STUPID.  So I left.)
But I can honestly tell you that not everyone in France thinks I'm an idiot!  (No . . . the punch line is not: I just haven't spoken to the rest of them)  On Saturday I went back to the therapy course for the afternoon.  Unsure if I'll be able to make it at all this coming weekend, I decided to talk with the guy who organizes these types of courses (he works for one of the OT programs at a university in Paris).  While I was waiting for him, the rehab doc who had been giving the course came and stood next to me and started staring at me as if I should really have been waiting for him.  So I turned and mentioned that I understood he had worked in NYC at one point.  He was thrilled to find out that I am a New Yorkeuse!  We got to talking (en français of course) and he started asking questions: where do you work . . . if you don't work in Paris, what are you doing here . . . you're studying French, but you speak really well . . . no, really, you do . . . (please note all of the details I'm leaving out) . . . here, take my card and email me so we can set up for you to do some observation hours . . . you really must continue coming to our Friday afternoon courses . . . let me introduce you to one of the OT's who works for me . . . wow!! You really speak well!  And you've only been studying since September!  Wow!!  Maybe when you're done in Niger you'll want to come work in France, just let me know.

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