Pardon My English French

, , , | Right | October 5, 2018

(I am traveling with my family on one of those whirlwind trips through Europe. I took a French class last summer, so when we are in France I am in charge of communication. We are at a cafe near our hotel where we are trying to get supper. This is my first attempt:)

Me: “Parlez vous anglais?”

Cashier: *questioning look*

Me: *more hesitantly* “Parlez vous anglais?”

Cashier: *blank stare*

Me: “Parlez vous English?”

Cashier: *with bright look and in perfect English* “Oh, you mean English!”

(I blush as everyone else laughs.)

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Tat For Brat

, , , , | Right | July 27, 2018

(Like most French tattoo parlours, we work only with appointments. A lot of customers want to get tattoos right here, right now, so we decide to have one “walk-in” day per week, on Tuesdays. Most customers perfectly get the idea, and everyone is happy about this. It is a Friday. A regular’s daughter, age nineteen, comes in.)

Customer: “Hi, I want to get a small tattoo. A small bow, on the ankle.”

Me: “Great! I’ll do it for [price]. Do you want to get an appointment, or do you prefer to do this next Tuesday?”

Customer: *seems confused* “I want to do it now!”

Me: “But we can’t do it now. We work only on appointments every day but Tuesday. That’s why your parents and you usually come here on Tuesdays, right?”

Customer: *looks dumbfounded, pouts like a baby, wide-eyed, and says with a baby tone* “But… I want it NOOOOW.”

Me: *confused* “But, [Customer], I can’t do it now. I have a customer right here waiting for me. We work only on appointments, every day but Tuesday.”

Customer: *not kidding at all, now leaning her head as if it would change my mind, saying in a desperate tone* “But… I wanted it… I wanted it TODAY!”

(She looks like she’s about to cry.)

Me: “I’m very sorry, but I really can’t. I’m planned all day, today and tomorrow. You can come back on Tuesday if you want.”

Customer: *leaving, mumbling* “That sucks. This place sucks. I wanted it. That’s not fair. I want it. I want it.”

Coworker: “What was that? Did she think that puppy eyes magically cancel your other appointments?”

(I was told the next week she eventually got her tattoo, in a famous tourist walk-in shop, for three times the price I asked. Some people can’t wait, I guess.)

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It’s Not So Oui-sey

, , , , , | Working | June 10, 2018

(My husband and I have taken our five-month-old son abroad to a famous theme park for our first family holiday. We are staying in one of the park’s hotels and go there immediately after arriving to check in and drop off our bags. We don’t speak French, but as the majority of staff speak English, we don’t foresee any problems. We also request a travel cot from reception to be delivered to our room. We venture into the park and spend several hours happily exploring and taking pictures and get back to the hotel well after dark. Being very tired, our first priority is to assemble the travel cot and put the baby down to sleep. However, after a couple of minutes, it becomes clear that something is wrong, as the cot refuses to open. After giving the whole thing a final shake — more out of tiredness and frustration than anything else — the cot suddenly unfolds with a clatter. It turns out that in trying to close it, the previous user of the cot had forced it in such a way that one of the metal legs had broken clean off, resulting in the cot getting suck in the “closed” position and rendering it unusable. Now annoyed, as well as tired and frustrated, I call the reception desk and explain that our travel cot is broken and we require a new one as soon as possible. The receptionist is not as fluent in English as the one we spoke to earlier in the day, but she seems to get the gist of our request and says that she will send someone right away. Twenty minutes later, an employee appears at our door. He does not speak English, but walks straight up to the crumpled pile of travel cot, which we had left in the corner of the room. In three swift movements, he has it unfolded.)

Employee: “Ta-da!” *gives us a smug look at having assembled the cot so swiftly when we apparently could not*

Me: *holding out the broken cot leg* “Okay, and what about this?”

(The employee looked at the leg, then at the cot, and his face fell. He took the leg and started to drag the fully-assembled broken cot out of the room, shaking his head and saying, “Oh la-la, oh la-la,” over and over again. Five minutes later, a new cot was delivered by a different employee. I guess the receptionist didn’t quite understand when we said our cot was broken, not that we didn’t know how to put it up.)

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This Taxi Entitlement Condition Is Terminal

, , , | Right | April 2, 2018

(It’s the last day of a college class trip to France. Some in our group have pooled money for a van to take us to the airport. As we’re all putting our luggage into the back, an American couple and their older son suddenly dash out of their hotel and yell about their cab going missing. We shrug it off and get in the van. The woman of the couple gets in with us.)

Woman: *in English* “I need you to take us to the airport!”

Driver: “Madame, they paid for me to drive them. You need to call for another cab.”

Woman: “No! Someone took our taxi. You need to drive us! We are late!

(This goes back and forth for a while. The woman refuses to listen to anyone in the van, her own family included. We tell the driver to just take them along, because we know this woman won’t get out. She proceeds to backseat drive the entire way to the airport, though I’m almost certain she has never been to Paris before.)

Driver: *stops somewhere far away from the terminal* “Here you go!”

Woman: “But this isn’t—”

Woman’s Husband: “This is fine. Thank you.” *pays the driver and ushers the family out*

(They have to walk over a concrete divider to get into the nearest building.)

Driver: *to us, in French* “That woman was driving me crazy!”

(He drove us to our terminal, and we gave him as good a tip as we could with the Euros we had left. Be nice to your cabbies, and don’t backseat drive.)


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Monsieur Shouty-Pants: A Cautionary Tale

, , , , , , | Right | January 1, 2018

(I’m half French, and the following takes place in Paris when I’m flying back from a family event. My flight is cancelled, and the inevitable queue of disgruntled passengers is starting to build around the customer service desk. I am standing behind an American chap who is in full how-dare-you-cancel-my-flight, do-you-not-know-who-I-am mode, made worse by the fact that he is shouting in English and the representative is clearly French. He eventually storms off, I suspect without the ticket he needs. The representative shakes her head and gives a shrug as I approach.)

Me: “Quel gentilhomme charmant!” *What a charming fellow!*

Representative: “Ah, je ne m’en fous pas!” *I don’t give a f***!*

(She then realises what she’s said and turns bright red.)

Me: *in hysterics* “Ah, oui, moi je n’ai pas envie de le f***** non plus!” *I wouldn’t want to f*** him either!*

(She made sure I got on the next flight. I didn’t manage to get an upgrade, but I suspect I got home much more quickly than Monsieur Shouty-Pants.)

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