Wednesday, April 09, 2014

French Etiquette Lesson #3

Yesterday I went into a brasserie. A "hip" ala New Yorkaise brasserie. Anyway. I went in, early in the morning and hadn't had any coffee yet. I went there the day before all was fine. However, this morning, I went in and three men just looked at me. The server gave me one of those backwards head nods, like "yeah, what are you doing here?" Taken aback, and uncaffeinated, I simply stammered, in French, "do you have any pain au raisin?"
"pain au raisin? ou d'accord...Je prendrai un croissant"

An older man who looked like he was repairing something electric looked up and hollered after the server saying, "Merci, Monsieur!!"

*     *     *     *     *

Ohhhhhhh....of course. I had completely forgotten my French manners.

When the server came back I said, "excuse me, I forgot to say 'Bonjour' and 'Thank you."

They didn't care by this point. He didn't even tell me how much it cost. This wasn't a very communicative kind of guy anyway. I asked how much it was, knowing full well but just to continue the communicating...An error on my part?

The other patron repeated the amount since the server only really pronounced the first half..."un euro..." (et cinquante...)

I paid 2 euros. Waited for my change. And left.

Harrummph. So frustrating that even after 6 1/2 years here in France, the one morning I forgot my French etiquette I get a patron who decides it's his job to remind me (teach me) my manners.

Some days require more patience than others. But I also remember that there are plenty of times where I have corrected myself as above and it smooths things over immediately and there's a conviviality and forgiveness. Perhaps the owner was just having "one of those mornings too..."

And on with our day!