Friday, September 02, 2005

Paris politeness

People persist in being polite and helpful. I went to the PO today, expecting at least a rude look when I explained that I could not speak French, but instead got a very friendly man who did his best with his limited English and was very helpful. He sold me a box to send back to Japan.

I went back to the hotel and filled the box (with all the heaviest things I could find, since the cost of sending was not related to the weight) and took it back to the PO, where a large queue had now formed. I watched the three guys at the counters being polite, helpful and friendly to everybody. The people waiting in line were very patient. Then my turn came, and I got a different guy to the one I got the first time. He looked at me and frowned.

"But, madamoiselle, you did not need to wait!" he told me. "You have paid for the box already. You could take it to my colleague downstairs, where there is not such a long line."

"Oh," I said. "I didn't know. Thank you."

"If you send another parcel, remember to take it downstairs," he said. "You waited too long, and you didn't need to."

He was distressed that I had waited so long. I reassured him that I didn't mind, and he shook his head sadly and smiled. "But you didn't need to wait," he said.

Later I went to a chemist to get some Ibuprofen. The last two days I have had a headache, which this morning had transformed into an almost crippling backache. (This is what inspired the sending of heavy stuff through the mail.) The woman in the shop was wonderfully helpful, and when I asked, also sold me something to rub on my neck, to help with the pain. She was friendly and funny, and when I suggested Tiger Balm she told me they only had Dragon Balm, which was very expensive.

"It's because dragons are expensive," she said. "They're hard to find in France."

How true. I haven't encountered a single dragon.

I bought something cheaper that did not involve tigers or dragons. I hope it works on the plane tomorrow.


Pearl said...

I found the same thing when we were in Paris last month. We had a kind reception too, even with my rough French language abilitites. The people were all going out of their way to help as a matter of course.

Robert said...

I suspect you're finding that the French--probably like everyone else in the world--will mirror the kind of attitude they're presented with. A lot of tourists carry such chips on their shoulders, they get rudeness because they project it themselves.

Cheryl said...

How lovely.
Hope your headache goes. Have a good flight!

tinyhands said...

My experiences in France many years ago exactly mirror Pearl & Robert's comments.