How Do you Say: “Duh!” In French?

 

 

 

 

One of my dearest and closest friend’s, comrades lives in Paris France. She is an American girl just like me, having spent most of her life in the U S of A.

However upon falling in love and marrying a French Man she uprooted all she knew for a new life in a foreign country. Mon cher ami de la jeune fille is not someone who lived a necessarily sheltered life. She is a woman who knows a lot about people, life, and even France. In many ways maybe even more so than a lot of native French do. Though anyone French would be loath to agree with me.

The following is a post from my cher ami’s blog. I thought it fascinating and know you’ll appreciate where she is coming from on many levels. Preface this with the fact that my friend is also medically disabled, has no business walking around Paris WITH NO PHONE let alone trying to function without one that is working.

5 days?

 

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Lost in Translation

Posted: 10 Mar 2012 05:01 PM PST

I would love to tell all of you that life in France is perfect, that it’s a dream, but no. Although Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it has more than it’s fair share of frustrations. I will share with you one of my days in Paris to fully appreciate the trials and tribulations that go alone with living in a foreign country.

The tactile screen on my cell phone got spotty and ceased up all together just in time for my contract to end. I searched online for my new toy, the little pocket that contains my whole life. I made a chart and brought it to the store, already anticipating that they would be out of stock of my first choice. I was right. The store nearest my house has a sign on it, “Closed until March 9th for maintenance”. There was not enough time that day to go to another store, so I survived that day and through the weekend phoneless. I’ve written about living in the dark ages here before, but I swear, history is alive and well in France. Visions of something between smoke signals and payphones danced in my head.

My doctor’s secretary, being the genius she is, working on her Ph.d. in stupidity, called and left a message on my cell phone for my next appointment after twice, once live on the phone and once in voice mail, leaving my home phone, she threw all rational thought out the window and left the information on my cell. When I called back to find out what is going on, she actually had the nerve to tell me she left a message on my cell. When I reminded her that my cell was broken, I swear I could hear the gerbil’s feet scamper on the wheel. It nearly killed her to have to give me the information that she already left on my cell.

After surviving all of this nonsense, I walked to another store for help with my phone. It was difficult to enter, due to the latter in front of the door. Every superstitious bone in my body made a run down of the current events. A woman greeted me. I began to explain in French when she noticed my accent and asked, “Parlez-vous anglais?” ‘For those of you still learning, that means do you speak English?) I said yes. She said she spoke English and that I could speak in English. I said, “Ok, my phone won’t receive calls and needs to be fixed.” She smiled and told me, “It’s ok, you can speak at a higher level.” I pondered this offer for a second or two then said, “My phone won’t receive called and needs to be fixed.” I’m not quite sure what higher level of English she wanted for that if she didn’t get the first message? She took my phone, called IT support. Then she asked me what the problem with my phone was. I repeated the, no incoming calls bit, going straight to voicemail.” I waited some more, like a duck stuck in the muck. She asked which numbers went to voicemail. I at first said my husband. She told me that his phone is probably blocking my call. I said, “No, it’s my husband, mon marie!” She said, “Yes, it is probably his phone.” My eyes bulged out of my head. I could actually hear some of my brain cells bursting until I said, “My doctor went to voicemail too.” Everything stopped in an instant, as if my doctor were world-famous. Your doctor went to voicemail, votre medicin?” she inquired. I replied,” Yes him too and another friend.” I heard her repeat in French to the IT person that it’s not just the husband, but the doctor went to voicemail. Then she asked me to list the numbers. Well, gee, I needed my cell phone for that!” I did call my husband to have him call and prove the incoming calls were going straight to voicemail. After this fiasco, she hung up the phone to give me the diagnosis. She said, “Your phone should be working in five days. If not, come back and we will see what we can do.” I looked at her and said,”Five days? What do you mean, five days?” She repeated and remained silent. I, being really frustrated, called my husband and asked her to explain to him ‘in French of course). I heard what she said to him in french and what she said in English. I was certain there was just something I missed. After this, my husband said to come home and he would explain. I came home right away, eager to know what was going on. Once I arrived at home, he said, “They said your phone should be working in five days.” I cannot tell you how infuriating it is when you understand something, but are lost in the shuffle, because it’s not your native language. Luckily, my phone began to work that night and it didn’t take five days. I share this with you, so for any of you that think of moving to a foreign country can prepare themselves for the difficulties they will encounter.

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22 thoughts on “How Do you Say: “Duh!” In French?

  1. I am amused by everybody’s comments to my post Thank you!. All of you are inspiring me to write another post on the Franco-American culture that might be of interest to you all. In the meantime, remember that there are all kinds of people wherever you go in this world, good and bad.

  2. I feel your friend’s anguish. Years ago I went with a group to France. All of us came away with the same feeling; the french don’t like Americans.
    Blessings – Maxi

    • Yes Maxi, they are out right rude. Worse is that she is disabled, and married to one of their own. It’s been a difficult time and she is no shrinking violet.

      I’ll be grateful when she’s back home.

    • It’s not funny but my friend M is so awesome about finding these gems of humor. I’ve been planning on introducing her on my blog – this was a fun start. For me, not so much for her.

  3. This was wonderful to read. I had heard the French were arrogant and if you ever go to France “you better know the language” or you’ll be lost LITERALLY. But this is completely different. It was a great story 🙂

  4. One of the things I loved about “My LIfe In France” with Julia Child. She talks about how hard it is to get thing and how people just have just a laid back easy going way and don’t get upset over the things we do.’

      • I read a reference (In the book ‘Sixty Million Frenchmen can’t be wrong) that I’ve never forgotten, that we should approach France as we would Japan or China, all ancient civilisations with many laws and cutoms still operating that were devised centuries ago. Food for thought.

        • Oh that is just so perfect! I’m coping and pasting this paragraph of yours to share with my friend in Paris. She’ll love this and just in case she misses the comments here I want her to see yours.

          She’ll also be grateful for any new reference or resource to her. Thank you.

You are most welcome to share your thoughts, comments, and/or complaints here. Know though complaints are only handled on the 2nd Tuesday of the week.~ The Management

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