A new French Twist from long ago

Discussion created by anadyr on Apr 9, 2012
Latest reply on Apr 10, 2012 by pluto77

Many years ago I was on a mission (not for a church but for a government agency) that took me by rental car throughout Europe.  Along the way I picked up associates, both male and female, and we spent time in little villages as we headed for Brussels.  Naturally there was a lot of the French countryside that most of us had never seen, and this being before GPS and Internet, we had to read road signs and be vigilant.

One day, with just myself and a proficient French speaking colleague in our car, we got terribly lost outside Reims, about 80 miles from Paris.  We were not sightseers but we had to maintain a facade of tourists.  Being lost we fit the bill. My colleague was eager to try her French at little out of the way places we stumbled on, and had been given many chances before she fainted (Forgot to mention that she has a fear of statues that are larger than life so at the Cathedral she collapsed and fainted).  No French spoken at that point just a trip to the local medical facility and a small Brandy (for me not her).

We approached a roadside petrol station, one of the Mayberry kind, with several older men sitting in rickety chairs, watching the dust accumulate on everything and chain smoking Gauloises.  In my best cyrpto-Francais I said "Bon Jour," and they nodded.  My colleague, now fully recovered from her statue fainting episode, got of of the passenger door of the car with a road map in hand and began jabbering in what must have been excellent French.

To her surprise not mine, they listened attentively then spoke in French to me, taking the map from her hands and gesticulating about what must have been directions to our destination.  At no time did they acknowledge her speaking to them, her excellent command of the language, or that she was in my car as we pulled up.  I nodded approvingly, after declining a cigarette they offered as well as a swig from a red colored liquid in a bottle beneath their chairs.

We got back in the car and drove off, having tasted the older Frenchman's treatment of a woman who asks directions.  Our journey was a lot quieter from that point on. In Paris she stayed in her room, sulking I would imagine, and never spoke French again.  We also avoided large statuary.  I learned my lesson!