Two summers ago, my family and I took a vacation to Europe. One of our destinations was Paris, France. It was my favorite city to visit because of its beauty, culture, and humor that went along with trying to communicate.
My mom took French in school through junior high and high school. However, after about 20 years’ lack of practice, the language was vague in her memory. I remember the rest of us laughing as we watched her struggle to form sentences with the bits and pieces of French she could recall. There was one incident when we were in a bakery for breakfast, and my brother and I ordered milk to go with our croissants. The French don’t drink milk as much as Americans do, and when they do it’s usually warm. So when the waitress brought us warm milk my mom shook her head and said,
“Non, non. Froit!” (“No, no. Cold!”)
“Ah, oui,” responded the server, “pardon.” (“Ah yes, excuse me.”)
We waited a few minutes and soon she was back with our milk, but it was now steaming hot! We could hardly contain our laughter; she thought we were complaining that the milk was too cold! Mom muddled a few more phrases in French until the woman understood, and she too began to laugh. With more effort than thought necessary, we finally got our cold milk.
French people are advertised as hostile and rude towards Americans, and trust me; everything you’ve heard is true. When we visited the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to buy a couple of postcards. So my mom, not having any change, handed me 10 Euros. When it was my turn in line, the cashier took one look at the 10 Euros and said,
“No change, sorry. NEXT!”
She snatched the postcards out of my hands and pushed me out of the way! I was so angry. French cashiers never seemed to have any change and no stranger had ever been so rude to me! I went over to my dad and asked him if he had any change. Luckily he did, so I marched back up to the front of the line and showed her the money.
“I have change; can I have my postcards back...
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