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    Doesn’t Speak (Or Hear) French

    | Montreal, QC, Canada | Books & Reading, Language & Words

    (I work in a library which serves mostly English-speaking patrons, but also French-speaking patrons, too. As such, the library uses both a French and English name. I receive a call from a number with an area code that I do not recognize, but is somewhat similar to the library’s area code.)

    Me: “Bibliothèque Publique de [City]. Public Library. How may I help you?”

    Patron: “Yes, I received a notice that my books are late. I would like to renew them.”

    Me: “Certainly. May I have your last name?”

    Patron: “It’s [Last Name].”

    Me: “Thank you.”

    (I pull up the list of our patrons with the last name in question.)

    Me: “What is your first name, please?”

    Patron: “It’s [First Name].”

    Me: *checking the list* “I’m afraid I can’t find that name on my list. Did you perhaps register your membership under a different first name, or were you using someone else’s card?”

    Patron: *a little annoyed* “No. I used my card, and my name is [Name].”

    (We go back and forth for a moment, before I ask…)

    Me: *hesitant* “Ma’am, are you sure you are calling the right library?”

    Patron: *a little offended by my suggestion* “Well, I am calling the library in [City], [US State]?!”

    Me: “No, ma’am. You called [City], Quebec, Canada.”

    Patron: “…”

    (She said goodbye and hung up. I’m not sure how all the French and the different area code failed to clue her in! I’m also curious how much the long distance call cost her!)