Friday, July 2, 2010

Where is Darwin?

I think I might be evolving. Though I have yet to grow a beak or sprout gills, something has changed. You see, strange things happen to me on a regular basis here in France, much of it borders on the absurd. Nothing in America could have prepared me for this. But that's just the way it is.

When I find myself in these types of situations, I can never seem to think of the right thing to say en français. I wouldn't want to upset anyone and I've found that it's easier to just carry on about my business. The brilliant retort I could've used always comes to mind long after the episode is over.

But this week was different. Not only did I come up with something to say, it a. worked and b. came out of my mouth all by itself. Had I stopped to reflect, I never would have said what I did. I can only conclude that I must be adapting to my surroundings.

You see, I found myself at Carrefour to pick up a few things: chickpeas, radishes, lemon, shampoo -nothing too exciting or expensive. Since I knew that I wasn't doing a major grocery run I left the house with my reusable Ukrops bag and a 10 euro bill. I couldn't think of anything else I'd need.

After waiting my turn in the check-out line, the cashier scanned my items and announced the total: €7.88. Like any normal human in the midst of a monetary transaction, I extended the 10 euro bill to pay for my purchases. This is where the story takes a turn towards bizarre-o-land.

The cashier froze, looked at me like I was holding a smelly sneaker and told me, "but I don't have any change." Now you see, normal American me would have been shocked and bug-eyed. You can't really expect me to believe that a store the size of Target operates without any change, can you? Certainly there is €2.12 lurking around here somewhere, even if it's not in your cash register.

However, my newly evolved getting-used-to-France self, hardly reacted at all. Some part of me must have known that snapping, fussing or even just pointing out the sheer ridiculousness of the situation wouldn't get me anywhere. Instead, a voice I didn't even recognize took over. I may have flipped my hair in disinterest as I casually informed her, ce n'est pas mon problème.

Not exactly polite, but boy oh boy was it effective. This one little gem of a sentence got me everything I needed. Without hesitating, she opened a few rolls of coins and handed me my change. Really?

Of course I told Monsieur J about the newly assertive pseudo-French me that evening. He was both proud and incensed and can't wait for me to show him which cashier it was so he can try paying for a pack of gum with a fifty euro bill.

And another piece of the puzzle falls into place...


  1. Good for you! David Lebovitz related the same problem on his blog. You have to learn more quick "catch phrases" like this.

  2. Ann, I just discovered your blog via Hilary Hendricks' blog roll and I am so impressed. I love your photos and anecdotes, and am particularly envious of your ongoing adventures in Toulouse.

    Keep up the good blogging!

    ~Emily Valentine

  3. Ann, I just discovered your blog through Hilary Hendricks' blogroll and am so impressed. I love your photos (they're gorgeous) and anecdotes....and I am particularly envious of your ongoing adventures in Toulouse. I visited a friend there in college and liked the city (and its people) very much.

    Keep up the good blogging!

  4. Go Ann!!!! I love this story and have been telling everyone about it -- bizarre and hilarious! Charlie's request: Please take a video when J tries the gum stunt!!!!

  5. That is awesome! Good for you! Seriously, you can't make that small amount of change!? C'mon!