05 October 2010


Long before I boarded my Europe-bound flight, I was warned with what to expect while living in France:
-The French will give you precise directions on how to get somewhere, not because they think you're stupid and can't figure it out yourself, but just because they do. Choose to follow said directions or find another way - that's for you to decide.  
-Expect to wait much longer than you're used to, nothing happens overnight here, and everything is more complicated than it needs to be. (Upon returning home, I'll definitely have a newfound appreciation for how quickly everything works! The US is pretty damned efficient, the French aren't so much!)
-And of course, among many other things, was reminded that the French are rude and aren't very helpful, especially towards Americans. This definitely is the predominant stereotype of the French attitude. Okay, that and that they smell, don't shave, and all smoke. 

Well, let me do my best to tell a little story to prove that the stereotype is not true...

This morning I finally had somewhere that I needed to be; something I had to do with a reason for finally setting my alarm again! (!!!) I was to meet ma responsable at her bureau at 10h00. She'd given exact directions for getting to her office: take the tram to Eurotéléport in Roubaix then take Ligne 20 (direction Hem) to l'arrêt Calmette. The other girls also under her responsibility and I had discussed meeting at Eurotéléport at 9h15 so we could take the bus and walk together. I got there on time and couldn't find the meeting point, nor did I know what they looked like, so, I decided to go to where Ligne 20 picks up and kept watch les américaines. I hopped on the bus when it arrived, only to see them walking towards the bus. Great. 

So here's where deviation comes into play... The ceiling of the bus has a map detailing out each stop on the line. There's also a digital reader board that shows le prochain arrêt and the current arrêt (Seattle totally needs this!) As I'm keeping an eye on how many stops there were between me and Calmette, all of a sudden the names on the reader board are completely different than those on the map! After two unfamiliar stops pass, I tell the driver I was looking for Calmette, with obvious concern in my voice since I have absolutely no idea where I am. He pulls the bus over, looks through his computer thingy and declares "Bien sûr, il y a une déviation dans la ligne."Oui, bien sûr! Of course there's a deviation from the posted route... He then goes to the next stop, which he thinks is where I'm supposed to get off, and tells me to get off the bus with him. He stops the bus behind him to ask where Calmette is and between the two of them, they apologize for for the deviation and for not speaking English to better explain where I need to go. If that's not deviation from the rude, unhelpful French stereotype, I don't know what is! 

And if you're wondering, they dropped me off down the street from where I needed to be. I met up with the other girls and we quickly attacked a stack of papers with our responsable. That's one thing I wasn't warned about... the French love having multiple copies of a bajillion documents... 

Tomorrow I finally have my orientation! I'm excited, even though I know it'll be boring.

ma responsable - my person in charge
l'arrêt - the bus stop (masculin)
les américaines - the American girls. (If I were talking about a group of guys or a group of mixed genders, then I would have used les américains) 
le prochain arrêt - the next stop
"Bien sûr, il y a une déviation dans la ligne." - Of course, there is a deviation in the line.


  1. I am so glad you found your way. Test Test Test :D

  2. They tested and are now running new buses along Hwy 99. They are electric and kind of a maroon color. Very quiet! No idea if I will be using them. But, they seem to be an improvement over the diesel buses that Metro has been using. Sounds like it's real close to you being a teacher. Don't worry. You will do just fine! love you, Dad.