Thursday, June 17, 2010

two lessons

it was a friday
in the loire valley.
and i had one task.
pack up the kids
and drive 40 minutes
to the train station to meet alex.
i left at exactly the right time
(i'm good at that).
i'd been there before,
at least once or twice--
plus, there's plenty of signs
for the train station, right?
cause there was only one issue:
alex had the tomtom.
that trusty tomtom had become our best friend,
we never left home without it.
and his guiding
"in 10 metres, turn left"
in that english accent
was that kind, reassuring sign
that we were going to get wherever
we wanted to go.
but this time, i was on my own.

well, i don't have to tell you
what happened next.
inevitably, i was worthless without tomtom.
i found myself lost and lonely,
when that highway suddenly ended
and left me to take the last exit
nowhere near where i should have been.
as i reached the stoplight
and the light turned green,
i didn't just hesitate, i didn't move.
the motorcycle behind me wasn't patient,
he honked and i was forced to turn.
as he turned behind me
i still felt his pressure
and decided to pull over
and figure out what to do next.
and as i did, he pulled up behind me.
as i prepared for my first incident
of french road rage,
he climbed off his bike
and walked towards my car.
i rolled down the window,
and what ensued was the kindest conversation
between a friendly french monsieur
and a desperately lost foreigner.
i did my very best to understand him,
but let's just say,
his hand motions helped a lot.

off we went,
in the direction he pointed,
trying to do what we were told.
and it wasn't long
before we sat at another stoplight,
wondering which way to go.
this time i rolled down my window
and asked the car next to me,
and again, his hand motions
were almost as good as tomtom.

i knew we were getting close
once i started seeing the signs for the station.
but the station is in a neighborhood
of winding streets and lots of one-ways.
again, i stopped some passersby
to ask if i was on the right track.
and as those two girls did their best
to describe to me the way to go,
they finally gave up
on the language barrier
and offered to ride there with me.
and so one hopped in my front seat,
the other squoze between the two car seats
in the back, and we were off
down those windy roads.
within minutes we had arrived
(and i heard tomtom in my head
"you have reached your destination.")
with profuse "merci beaucoup"s,
those girls took back off on foot,
and i finally found alex--
of course much tardier than he would have hoped.
but surely my excuse was good.

there are two lessons here.
one for me, one for you.
for you:
don't you ever go believing that myth
that the french are unfriendly and rude.
this only holds true
for the waiter at the touristy restaurant
across from grand opera in paris.

and for me:

my work has begun.


Melanie said...

I found the same thing about the French people when we went to Paris.. not the rude people I had heard to believe, very kind and helpful in every way.
Good luck with the French lessons. I wish I still held all of my high school french, but living in Utah and NYC and now MN, I just have not had the need for it, so sadly my bilingualism has eroded. Some day I will make myself familiar with all of the verb tenses again!

OnGod'sErrand said...

Glad you had some guardian angels that day. Enjoy studying your French. You'll do great!

Davian said...

wish i could be your translator this summer. ah well, next're sure you wouldn't rather do this august in so cal?