With those words, I greeted my friends at Le Descartes, a charming little bistro in the 5th.
Not one single person had offered to help me with my bag as I was lugging them up the metro stairs. In the final climb of the million steps at La Montage, I actually spoke out loud (like a crazy person) saying 'Merci, c'est très gentil, but no, no I can manage' to a man who was headed down the stairs.
He looked up.
I didn't have any free hands to give him the middle finger.
There are just some things I don't understand about the French. Parisians in particular. First, why don't they just offer to help people when people clearly need it? Like Canadians.
And second is what is the deal with acknowledging existence?
What I mean is...French people's existence MUST be acknowledged. A few years ago, when I was in the middle of my citizenship process, I was running late for a required French history and cultural course. I was lost.
I run up to a woman, the closest person, and completely desperately asked, 'Please I am lost, can you help me?' and she looked at me as one might an ant they are about to squish and corrected me. 'MADAME, please I am lost, can you help me?'
Ok. But then why is it when you walk on the sidewalk, they don't acknowledge your existence? My friends and I have been literally shoved by those who just won't share the walkway. I've had people walk straight at me, as if it is a dare on who is going to move out of the way first. So if you are lost and need their help, first acknowledge their existence. But on the sidewalk, you simply cease to exist.
Madame be dammed.
But hello? What is this? My friend tells me she has a trick.
She tells me to carry a baguette and hold it horizontally, so that it takes up space. They will go around you, she says. They might not acknowledge your existence, or respect you, but they will definitely respect the baguette!
Good one. I will try it.
And if nobody helps me with my bags, the baguette can always serve as a little something with which to hit them or, if all else fails, serve as a bit of comfort food when my tired, sweaty self collapses from exhaustion.