Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Two Terms of College French on Parade

The next day, Mary and I drove up to Montreal.  Actually, Mary drove; I sat in the passenger seat snacking on cherries.  And baby carrots.  (We'd stopped at the market for some healthy snacks for the road.)

Our first full day in Montreal, we decided to head out to Vieux Montreal (the old City).  We planned to take the Metro.  Mary was leaving the next day, but I was staying a few days, so she planned to get a one-day Metro pass and I'd get a three-day pass.  So Mary asks the lady in the little booth for a one-day pass, and the lady acts like she speaks English but really does not.  She gives Mary a one-week pass.  We only notice this after I have my three-day pass and we're heading for the train.  We go back to the lady in the little booth and Mary tries to explain that she'd wanted a one-day pass.  The lady doesn't quite get it and I poke my head in her general direction and (having practiced it a few times in my head, first) say, "Un jour; pas un semaine."  And it works!  She understands; refunds Mary's money, and sells her a one-day pass. 

I've since been in Montreal for several days, and this was my greatest success with the French language to date.  I've since learned that when someone says "Bonjour" to you, they don't really mean, "Hi."  They mean, "Hey, wanna speak French?"  The proper answer (for me) is not, in fact, "Bonjour" with a deep hope that whatever follows involves small words that I can understand.  The proper answer is "Hi," at which point the person you're talking to will conveniently switch to English (if they can, which they generally can).  Ah, the joys of travelling in a bilingual City.

1 comment:

helmswondermom said...

Very good!  Hey, were the cherries and the baby carrots from the U.S.A.?  (Like the strawberries?)