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Rude Because You're American Or...Just Rude?
My French friend, Chantal, an editor at a big publishing house in France, who speaks perfect French, experienced this recently when making a restaurant reservation:

Last night at around 9pm I call Chez Benoît, very fancy bistrot, belonging to Ducasse (where Diana was supposed to go the day she died ) to make a reservation for the 29. No answer, only a waiting message, and the feeling that somebody was hanging up on me 3 times. Finally somebody picks up the phone and says to me "we are in the middle of service", meaning you are disturbing us, with a very nasty and uncommercial voice.

So I told him I had been trying to reach them for more than 15 mn and that in the end I was not going to make a reservation after being treated like a dog. No excuse from the guy, no sorry. Incredible. i guess we will never go again too bad they have the best profiteroles au chocolat in Paris!!
Too bad
A bientôt

To all you bigtime France detractors, the next time somebody is rude to you in the USA, ask yourself whether they're rude because you're American. Parisians can be snobby, but, frankly, they're that way toward people who aren't Parisian, not just people who aren't French. And P.S. Go to NYC, and look like two galoots from the midwest, and see if you don't get a bit of le snob treatment yourself. (Hint: It's an urban thing, not a French thing.)

Posted by aalkon at September 30, 2007 8:21 AM


> Go to NYC,....

Oh yes... stop me if I've told this story before. After a film shoot that went way, way into golden time, getting on for 1am, a bunch of us went over to 2nd Ave in search of anything resembling dinner. Delighted to find a restaurant that was still open, we piled in. The receptionist snapped "Kitchen's closed". "Oh," I replied, a trifle sarcastic, "I thought this was the City that never sleeps". His comeback was classic NYC: "We're not a-fucking-sleep, we just ain't serving".

Seriously, though, that treatment by Benoit is outrageous. You expect rudeness in NYC -- I, at least, don't in Paris.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at September 30, 2007 10:38 AM

I don't either. Chantal sent it to me because she was shocked, too.

People in Paris are generally very nice to me, despite the fact that I speak shitty French, and also speak better French than I understand (unless somebody talking to me is old or a child -- they speak more slowly). Getting treated well comes down to this: Smile, be friendly, make the tiniest effort with the language (i.e., say "Bonjour, Monsieur" and "Merci, au revoir" when you leave a place), and don't expect it to be exactly the same as it is at home. Newsflash: You're not at home! If you need it to be like it is at home to be happy...stay home!

P.S. Love the story, Stu, especially the line: "We're not a-fucking-sleep, we just ain't serving.

Oh yeah, and an example of somebody who was kind to me in Paris -- the lady at the Internet cafe. I got there when they had just closed, but she told me she remembered me -- I'd come by to check them out, and I'd smiled and said hello to another guy who works there. She opened the door just for me and waited for me to print my stuff. When I was having trouble finding the files fast on my flash drive (could PCs be MORE counterintuitive?) I said I'd just print the most important one. She insisted I print them all and came over and helped me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 30, 2007 11:02 AM

Stu, I'm going to steal that story.

Posted by: Crid at September 30, 2007 1:20 PM

PS- PC's aren't counterintuitive. Macs are counterintuitive. I've spent the last year learning to edit video on them, and it's a spectacular pain in the ass. To relieve stress, I take periodic breaks to write a memo to Steve Jobs. It's now ten pages long. There's a reason they changed the name away from Apple Computer, Inc.

Posted by: Crid at September 30, 2007 1:25 PM

I friend Sophie, who's 7, manages. Perhaps professional video editing in a Mac is harder?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 30, 2007 5:40 PM

Oh yeah?

Well, my neighbor's kid Preston is only six, and he gives great fucking advice.

So just know that, Alkon.

(PS- His trike get better mileage than your car, and looks cooler too.)

Posted by: Crid at September 30, 2007 8:14 PM

Touché! (But maybe you should try iMovie?)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 1, 2007 6:51 AM

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