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how rude!




Neighbors in Paris never ceases to provide a source of endless entertainment. With the exception of the feisty and fur beret-wearing Madame Parnois, who sadly I don't see as often as I would like, the rest of the residents of my building are a little off. One in particular...

Aurélien and I were coming home from work yesterday and a young woman, I'd say in her early-30s was standing in front of our apartment building, blocking the doors with a few bags. Without even so much a 'good evening' she mumbled a half-assed narrative about being locked out and not being able to ring the buzzer. While her story sounded pretty dumb and unclear, it didn't raise any red flags, so we both shrugged with approval and proceeded to let her in. She let Aurelién open the door for her, cut in front of me, nearly whipped me in the ear with the stuffed Monoprix reusable bag that she slung over her shoulder, and trailed behind him into the building. Call me nitpicky here, but if a couple is relieving you from standing out on the sidewalk at 7:30 pm, wouldn't you acknowledge both of them? Details, I suppose.

The three of us walked up the stairs single file where she made her exit on the first floor while we continued up to the second. Once in the house, Aurelién dropped his work bag on the floor and stood in our hallway, looking at me in absolute disgust. 

"Oh. Là. Là. How rude are some people? Can you believe what just happened?" he said shaking his head in what appeared to be grave disappointment.

"She was a little curt, I agree." I said trying to scoot past my little boy scout who looked nothing short of stunned as if an old lady refused to donate to his fundraiser.

"Curt? Just downright rude!" he pled, before presenting the raw evidence. "First she didn't say bonsoir when we approached the door, she didn't ask if we would let her in, she told us that she couldn't get in. She then dismissed you entirely, and to make things worse she didn't say merci or even wish us a bon soirée! C'était n'importe quoi!" I totally wanted him to cap this monologue off with a Stephanie Tanner "how rude!" complete with his arms stacked and a pouty mouth. So didn't happen.

Aurelién, who doesn't get heated often, becomes very passionate in his determination to keep cordiality alive and thriving here in Paris. He really should start a manif'. 

Hours later, I realized that I had seen the harridan from earlier around the building a few times sporting a Yankees cap (don't even get me started on that), demonstrating similar behavior. And for some reason I found comfort in this. Everyone's entitled to a bad day or two, but her bitchiness is chronic, so at least she's consistent.

As commonly known, greetings and salutations are an expectation here in France. Even if you don't really hope that the pharmacist who refuses to give you non-herbal sleeping aids has a bonne journée, just say it. Not being French, this common rule of thumb doesn't really offend me. I honor it but if someone doesn't wish a good day or say hello to me, it sits fine with me.

This is going to come out terrible, but it was nice for once seeing Aurelién more peeved than me. More often than not, it's me making all of the crotchety comments and dramatically appalled facial expressions. Are you at all surprised? 

23 comments:

  1. Aurélien should visit Finland, he would get crazy! ;)

    I like this way France is, everybody are polite (except the exceptions) and I like to hear the Bonjour from the caissière, when I go to the store.

    When I visited Helsinki last time, I forgot I was in Finland and said hello in finnish to the people at the store, they looked like I'm crazy.

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    1. Hi Sini!

      I have the same experience the first few days I'm back in the States, my reflex is to say hi or to acknowledge whomever is at the checkout but like in Finland, it's deemed a bit strange! I now go back and forth enough that I have my customs for each country in check!

      Thanks for the heads up should we find ourselves in Helsinki. It's definitely on the to-do list of my life in Europe!

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  2. Sini,

    I smiled when I read your post, because I lived in Lappeenranta for three years! I can totally relate! One Christmas, I was visiting my family in Quebec and did a little last-minute shopping in Quebec City. I couldn't get over how polite and friendly everyone was! I remember my dad looking at me like I was crazy and saying: well, of course people are nice, friendly and polite! It had never occurred to him that it could be any other way:)

    Love the Finns though, even if they can be a little gruff:)

    @Lisa: I hate self-entitled assholes like the woman you just described. Sounds to me though that she might not be playing with a full deck...

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    1. She is a bit off, either that or just a drama queen wrapped up in her own shit. I am always grateful when I don't cross paths with her. Unfortunately we seem to come home at the same time though. Grr.

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  3. There is something satisfying about calm, relaxed people getting pissed off once in a while. I think especially so because we are NYers who were brought up around big, passionate personalities. I treasure the rare moment when my bf gets ticked off, as long as it's nothing grave. ;-)

    I stopped saying "Bonjour" when I run up to the Bastille.. When I am sweating and panting it is just not the time; so I don't make eye contact. Thankfully it's the one place it seems well accepted (when running up steep hills!) as most don't say Hi here while doing hard exercise in public. Other than that I'm really into Bonjour/Au revoir/Bonne journee'ing with a friendly smile, it's oh so jolly and brightens up the day.

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    1. Yes, I think most of us expats enjoy the hello/goodbye custom here. It's different and gives us just another excuse to speak a little French!

      When you run, do you have people stop you and ask for directions? I get it all the time! I had one elderly woman ask me if she could make a phone call on my iPod! I was dripping sweat, heart racing and she actually stopped me to ask if she could make a phone call on a device that doesn't make calls. I don't think I wished her a bonne journee....

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  4. Yay for Aurélien and yes, he SHOULD do a manif'! It sure would be a heck of a lot better than all of the crazy a*s stuff that has been started by the likes of frigid narnot or whatever her name is. Boooooo! Equality and politeness, yes! :)

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    1. Hahaha I could just picture the Manif' for the Polite! I'd certainly be there! But yeah, lots of crazy stuff happening on these streets these past few months....

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  5. Haha, reminds me of Gad Elmaleh's sketch:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ0_cCmbyNc
    So true... I think about it almost everyday when in the elevator at work! ^^

    What I hate most is when people don't say hello back to me. It's like they're saying 'you're like shit'!

    Good opportunity to teach you a French expression: "Ni bonjour, ni merde!". Example: you could have said "Nan mais la nana, ni bonjour, ni merde quoi, quelle connasse !" :-)

    Funny how one single people can be considered both unwelcoming/unfriendly and too polite haha ;-) Curiously enough, I can't say I disagree!

    Oh yeah, Stephanie Tanner!!! I just LOVED Full House, I watched it every week at my Grandmother's as a kid. In French, 'how rude' was translated "c'est rude", which doesn't mean the same thing but what other word could match her lips moves? :-D

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    1. Ahhhh! This clip was soooo great! Too, too funny and so spot on! Thank you Emma!

      C'est rude?!?! Love it!!! I'm glad you enjoyed my 'Full House' reference. I just can't help myself with a little throwback when dealing with daily issues. : )

      Comme d'hab, thanks for your awesome comment!!

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  6. Hee hee, hope he had a petted lip at least even if he didn't do the full crossed arms huff!

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    1. No, he just let out a lot of huffs, puffs and "n'importe quois" !

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  7. You made me smile.. again.. I would love to teach you another expression (you might know it already!) but it is a bit rude! hehe

    Deftly agree with Aurelien on this one! I would have gone mad! x

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    1. Oooh out of curiosity, what's the expression?

      In general, I try not to insult in French because you guys can always snap back and make fun of my accent or worse call me cute, which would just kill my whole intention of being snippy. When I'm pissed, I let loose en anglais! But do share the rude comment. : )

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  8. how rude indeed! i really hope there is a part II to this at some point about when one of you tells her off. i like all the hellos & goodbyes... i think it's sweet but of course am not offended when it doesnt happen. then again, knowing that it *should* always happen, i can see how aurelien was offended! x

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    1. He's not like a politeness Nazi representing French customs. LOL! His point was mostly driven by the fact that she lives in our building and that our paths will cross again, so why not be polite (saying goodbye?) to two people that helped you. Even in the States this would have been a little rude, right? I forget... : )

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  9. That's how Mexico is. You're expected to say hello and good-bye to everyone that you meet. If its someone you even kinda know, then kissing on the cheek is order. I like the personal touch and how everyone goes out of their way to be polite to even strangers. But, your lady should have at least said 'merci' if nothing else. That's expected in all cultures.

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    1. Wow! Really? When you say "kinda know" does this include neighbors? shop owners? teachers? Or is it like the European double kiss that's only whipped out in social situations?

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  10. I think I would have loudly said "you're welcome" to her at the very least....what an ass hat.

    bon weekend a tous.

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  11. Since I have been visiting Paris and France, I have become used to the niceties of French manners and begun to notice how English people do not greet each other. I think I have become more polite myself in English situations.

    The other day we had a French speaking lady as a client at work, I shouted her name in the waiting room "Madame Antionette" and automatically added "s'il vous plait" I then followed up with "bonjour madame sa va?" She lit up with a smile, but my collegue looked at me as if I was mad.

    It is interesting that Aurelien said that the lady..... "she didn't ask if we would let her in, she told us that she couldn't get in" and thoiught that was rude...... whereas, probably where I came form it is more polite to say you couldn't get in and let the other person offer to let you in. Asking to be let in would be seen as demanding. ......I am now understanding that, in French society, it is more polite to say what you want the other person to do, than wait for them to offer.....

    This makes a lot more sense to me when I have been dealing with French landlords, as I usually explain the problem to them and wait for them to give me an answer. Which they never do...Now I know why.
    Love Denise

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    1. Hmm maybe...it's always nice to see the other side, but in this case she told us and escorted herself in whilst cutting me off. It happened within nano seconds. No hesitation, just an expectation. Had I not seen her in the building before, I would have stopped her and asked her questions, something she didn't care to consider. We didn't get the impression that she was entertaining any form of politeness.

      Sadly, I have to see her again and I'm going to do my best not to "faire la tête"!

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  12. Great post! I'm finally catching up on my blog reading and this was a really fun one to read this morning. I love that you chased the guy down -- but please be careful. As you already know, there are some lunatics out there.

    Any chance that the haridan (thanks for introducing me to a new word!) sporting the Yankee cap isn't French?

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