Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Things we learned this summer

Well it's a long list. One of them is we do not do too well with stress, especially stress related to not being able to access our money (ahem... stupid banks) and traveling woes. Ugh. Although right now I am sitting in the fancy-schmancy Delta Lounge in the Atlanta airport. You see, signing up for fidelity programs does pay. Awesome comfy chairs, open bar (not that we're necessarily taking full advantage of that. I always feel like a baby or an AA asking for apple juice...) and plenty of snacks like nutella and fancy crackers and hummus and chocolate chip cookies, free Wi-fi, complimentary newspapers, a sweet bathroom, plenty of electrical outlets... Andrew's favorite part of course is the hot chocolate fountain. I tell you, this is the way to deal with an eight-hour layover (yeah, you read that right... yuck). So here we are, trying to not look too conspicuous next to all the graying businessmen and elegant ladies. Although Andrew's wearing his suit, so I'm the one looking like a slob. Oh well, it's not like I really care. I'm in the Delta lounge. Yeah! Did I mention it's free to join? Cm'on, join the club, and we can all party at the airport! (I'd take pictures but I'm afraid we'd get kicked out for lack of propriety or something...)

Anyway, where was I... Oh yeah, stuff we learned. Andrew kept a list, and he wrote down a bunch of stuff he noticed about the French. But really, most of the time what he really meant was Parisians... Some of them are pretty funny. So in all their awesome glory, here are Andrew's notes from our trip to France this summer:

- Do I really want to spend the rest of my life in the office?
- French cashiers are the slowest on the planet
- In general, people do stupid things. In France it's smoking, in the US it's riding motorcycles without a helmet.
- For caring so much about perfume and taking care of one's body, men in France smell bad
- French people know how to beg. It isn't just asking for money. It is a complete speech filled with rhetoric, having a logical development, a stated objective, and multiple ways of funding said goal.
- Things are either on time or late. Buses are generally the latter. Metros are slightly better. I can't make a judgment on the RER (a suburban train) because it's been on strike so much.
- You have to say "hello" and "goodbye" on the elevator at business or church
- French people receive a fraction of instruction, cut off the speaker, debate it among themselves, and then tell the speaker how they should do it and how they (the French) could do it better
- The transport system in France is exceptional
- The transport system in France is horrible
- You will never find a baby pigeon in Paris
- Schoolchildren always have to hold hands on field trips
- Ham is ridiculously overpriced in France (also very good, but come on...$1 for ONE slice of ham?)
- The reason important people get special treatment is because without the special treatment, the important can't/won't work. No one has the balls to speak up to the important people. (Lydia's note: this may or may not have been written after he babysat US Senators for a weekend...)
- Just because someone at work tutoies you (the informal way of addressing people) at work doesn't mean you get to tutoie them back.
- Nobody really knows the rules for tutoying and vousvoying (formal and informal)
- Take a moment to help a stranger. It will remind you that you are human, not Parisian. (SO true. Now I know why some people travel to Paris and think French people are mean/rude/evil. Blame the Parisians!)
- The concept of "hang right" when walking through public corridors is lost on most French people (Lydia's note: "stand right, walk left" on escalators, however, is a cardinal law, and you will get run over if you so much as think of violating it)
- Forming a line in France is equivalent to a grand amoebic, cattle-herding mass. Someone makes an announcement and civility gets thrown out the window as you move like a lemming with the crowd and 50 people try to squeeze into one doorway at the same time...where is the cattle prod when you need one? 
- In France, navigating public places, much like conversations, is an awful game of smear the queer. If you are not assertive enough to bolt through lines and interrupt people, you get trampled on. (Lydia's note: or is it "smear the questioning"?)
- It is completely normal to stand in front of a metro/bus/train door so as to block the passage of descending passengers in order for the boarding passenger to maybe get a seat inside.

Are you sensing a certain frustration with public transportation at this point?

- You can park wherever you dare in France.
- Some people give the bise (kissing on both cheeks as a greeting) starting on a different cheek depending on which region they are from in France. They also give a different number of bises. (Lydia's note: this can make for some awkward dodgy greetings...)
- No one will ever see a "caution wet floor" sign in France. If you slip, it's your own fault.
- "Trust falls into two levels: Integrity and Competence. No level of integrity can compensate for a lack of competence."
- the Madrid metro is WAY cleaner/more comfortable than the Paris metro
- having a long layover in a fancy airport lounge is definitely the best way to pass time at an airport (thank you bonus miles)
- the Madrid LDS temple is one of my favorites
- It is great to be back in the USA!

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, and I don't have much to add to that at this point. The jet lag is starting to get to me.

0 grain(s) de sel:

Post a Comment