I had to go to la laboratoire nationale today to have a test done. When the line-out-the-door finally advanced, the receptionist smiled politely. Bonjour, madame, I said. Bonjour, lak alkd lakjglkjslkd aslkdj? She asked and held out her hand. Pardonne?? I replied. Votre lakjglkjslkd aslkdj. She repeated. I stared blankly (my trademark look since I moved to France) . . . she spoke louder. I swallowed my pride and said Je ne . . . parle pas . . . uh . . . bien . . . BIEN . . . le francais. (I don't . . . speak . . . uh . . . well . . . WELL . . . the French). She smiled and simply said Votre carte vitale?
I was lost. But considering I was coming to have blood drawn and all the people in front of me handed her a green credit card, I assumed she was talking about the national health insurrance card. I pulled my Aetna card out, handed it to her and said Je ne suis pas francaise (I'm not French) . . . to which, in her head, I'm sure she thought "What gave that away??"
She asked for my address. That was easy.
Then, for the kiss of death . . . she wanted my telephone number!
Now, those of you who are regular attenders of these blogposts will know that, one, I cannot count in French, and, two, I'm even worse at math than I am at spelling! (If only I could spread out some of my short-story-long-girl powers!) Add that to the fact that I've only recently absorbed my cell number into my memory . . . and you get the following:
Zero-six . . . uh . . . zero-six (06 . . . uh . . . 06). As I tried to come up with the next set of digits, she politely reminded me that there were four more units I was missing (which didn't help my paranoia any) I kept going. Vingt-trois (23) . . . no . . . oui . . . vingt-trois (23) . . . zero-cinq (05) . . . no . . . zero-huit (08) . . . oui, zero-huit (08) . . . soixante-onze (71) . . . NO! . . . uh . . . uh . . . cinquante-onze (50 11). She interjected. Pardonne madame, il n'existe pas, cinquante-onze (I'm sorry, ma'am, but there's no such thing as 50-11). I started to laugh at my blunder. Cinquante-et-un (51)! The best part was, she started to laugh too (Check that one off the Bucket List: make a French stranger laugh!). I think it was the laughter that broke my nerves . . . Quatre-vingt-un (81) I announced with a bit of a bugle-blowing-charge.Now that the taking of my info was done (oh, sorry world-wide-blogspot, you don't get the real number), she gave me instructions about picking up my results. Les résultats seront finir alksjdlk lkajsd lkfj asjd lj as flkajsdlkfj alks jdflkja lkj dlk jiwjeoi voia voiwnov hitheaoi ve la poste aslkdjfl lakjs dlfkj laskjdf lkj. All I got of that was "The results will be finished . . . the post . . . ." Okay, I thought, they will mail the results. But where?? To me? Or here at the lab?? So I thought I'd ask: Les résultats vont venir chez moi? Ou chez vous? (The results will come to my place or yours?) She looked at me shocked and asked, Chez MOI? I laughed again. OH! PARDONNE! Pas chez VOUS, mais . . . ici!! (Oh, sorry! Not YOUR place . . . but here!)
Needless to say, the line was back out-the-door and no one else seemed s'amused with my studdered butchery of their beautiful langue maternelle.