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Day 138: Almost Get Arrested in France.


Last night Aurélien had taken my mother and me out for dinner during her 36-hour layover near her hotel in the 13th. It was unexpected that he'd pick up the tab because we had invited him, and me being used to deadbeat boyfriends figured either me or my mom would foot the bill, so it was a lovely change. When is he going to turn and stop being so fabulous? His amazing qualities are starting to scare me. My boyfriends would have shown their true colors and would pretty much suck by now, but Aurélien continues being a wonderful person, at the risk of sounding trite. Maybe this is the way it's supposed to be? Who knew? Certainly not me...

Aurélien, being a bit shy and my mother being, well, my mother I thought would pose somewhat of a challenge over dinner where I anticipating having to keep the conversation flowing to balance out the French and English. Dinner with my mom and Monsieur Flâneur was always kind of easy because he flat out didn't speak English (which he made no apologies for) so translating was expected of me and I got quite good at quickly bouncing back and forth between the two languages. With Aurélien, he does speak English and I don't want to insult him with translations, but there are moments when I don't know if his silence means that he doesn't understand or simply doesn't know how to respond. With my mom who says absolutely what's on her mind, both possibilities are conceivable making dinner a bit tricky. I can tell my mom likes him or at least wants to like him because she proposed dessert and coffee at the hotel restaurant before Aurélien and I vespa'd back to the Marais.

We walked into the chicly decorated hotel restaurant bar and sat on a plush velour couch to peruse the dessert and cocktail menu. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a small congregation of servers closely discussing something while looking over at us. Having been a server myself, this discussion looked far more intense than the typical server chat of who would take the table. There seemed to be some anxiety in their body language and facial expressions. Aurélien and my mom didn't realize this and were chatting lightly about the menu and laughing at my mom's French pronunciation. I then saw the manager go to the circle of servers and was intently listening while also looking over at us. What was going on? Was there something on my face? No. Was my mom underdressed? No. Were we sitting at a reserved table? No. A server then came over and asked to speak to my mom. My mom who as we all know doesn't speak French looked at me. "What's the problem, sir?" I politely asked him. "The problem is that you and your mother did not pay for your check the last time you were here," he said sternly with several servers and the manager behind me like a waitstaff mafia. I looked at Aurélien whose eyes widened at hearing this. Naturally, he was horrified. His new girlfriend and her mother were accused of dining and ditching. Oh. my. god.

To be honest, there is an element of truth to this accusation but please allow me to explain. And no, I'm not trying to pull a fast one where my sublet thief's actions are rubbing off on me, there is a valid explanation here. I swear! The last time my mom and I were at the hotel, which was last week, and for 45 minutes, we could not get the server's attention to give us the check. My mom needed to sleep before working another eight-hour flight the next morning. Having waved him down several times where my requests went ignored, I walked over to the busboy and asked if he could just print out the check for us. The busboy who didn't speak English or French just looked at me. I pulled out the post-it pad that I keep in my purse and wrote "Chambre 505" for him to give to the server to charge the room. Unfortunately, the server was nowhere to be found so I couldn't point at him to clarify the request. 

"Did you tell him?" my mom asked on our way to the elevator. "Yeah, but I don't think he understood, so I wrote it down," I responded. "Ok, it should be fine, they have my card on file. I just want to go to sleep." my now groggy mother said. It's sad but my mom is getting older and these transcontinental flights are beating her up more and more. As much as I love seeing her here, what I really want is for her to retire soon. I know she is going to kill me for writing that but it's the truth. I want her to stop smoking and to stop working, even if it means I'll have to start paying full fare for plane tickets. I don't care.

The following morning at check-out, my mom realized that our dinner was not on the bill and my mom being an honest person (A pain, yes. A schemer, no.) told the reception what had happened and if they had the bill. The receptionist said that nothing had been reported from the night before and that it's fine. Being in France where customer service has yet to be invented, the receptionist obviously didn't feel like investigating any further and just handed my mom the incomplete bill for her to sign. Okay. My mom informed her that she would be back the following week and to keep the card on file to charge her should the bill come to surface. The receptionist nodded and smiled. You'd think we were asking them to do us a favor with how unwilling they were to look into the situation.

"It's for them, not me! I'm practically begging to pay that bill!" she said while loading her suitcase in the employee bus going to Charles de Gaulle. Since my mom comes to this hotel once a week she wanted this settled one way or another. Can you blame her?

Clearly, nothing was communicated or settled and the server ended up having to pay the 20euros check and was looking at my mother and I like we were low-class thieves. He even mumbled something about the police. The police?! That, my mom understood! "I'm going to French jail over the theft of the Quiche Lorraine?" she cried. "Well at least let me order another glass of wine before dealing with this!" What the server actually said was that he could call the police not that he was going to. My mom understands French nouns, preferably cognates, so she reacted to the one word that is internationally understood; the police. 

This was supposed to be the official meeting of my mother and new boyfriend and it was just horrible. I explained to the unsympathetic server what had happened last week and to please bring us the bill where we would sign for it. Aurélien didn't seem terribly phased by what had happened, either that or he has a good poker face but as soon as he excused himself to go to the men's room, my mother grabbed my arm. "I'm mortified!" she said completely embarrassed by what had happened. "Me too," I said with my hands rubbing my temple. Aurélien returned and the rest of our evening was extremely awkward. My mother and I felt like blue-collared criminals as we guiltily ate our strawberry crème brulée.

My mom is terrified of her hotel now and doesn't want to come to Paris for a while. I don't blame her. Although it was an honest misunderstanding, it felt horrible to be accused of stealing, even if it was just for a quiche. I don't know how some people live with themselves...

3 comments:

  1. I just commented but I'm not sure if it accepted it properly - please let me know if it didn't. I'd hate for you to miss out on a comment because of a technical hitch my end.

    :)

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  2. Hi Han,

    No other comment besides this was posted by you! : )

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  3. :( I guess it got lost somewhere in the system. I'll try and remember what I wrote lol.

    There's a restaurant near our house and they do nice pizza. But the service is rubbish. On one occasion we had gone for dinner. We'd finished our meal and we had to asked two or three times for the bill. Even then they'd left the bill on the table but didn't come back for payment - me and our friend went and stood outside the restaurant while my OH started at our table and gradually moved towards the door - he figured someone would catch on eventually. He stood by the door near the "wait here to be seated" and someone caught on finally!!

    Another time me and Mum were in a restaurant in Milton Keynes - it had two doors, the fire alarm went off and we were evacuated - in the craziness two girls on the table along from us who had just finished their meal just carried on walking when we were evacuated - think they saw it as a way to get a free lunch.

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