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Conversations with The Tuesday Night Girls: What’s Your Pet Peeve?

For Cara, it’s leaving lights on in an empty room; for Mootsie, it’s finding discarded socks and shoes leaving a trail behind where others’ feet have traveled.

For me, it had always been technology.  You love it except for when you hate it.  Don’t get me wrong, technology is great!  I have all the I-thingies, PC-thingies and navigation thingies…what’s frustrating for me is when they choose to go horribly wrong:  such as being in a strange town when your navigation system suddenly stops receiving signals.  Or worse, when you are in another country and you cannot get your I-whatever to work, or you get notifications from your data carrier that your plan is desperately close to being bankrupt because you’ve used a gajillion Gigs of data, which is way above what your plan allows.  You’ve become so dependent on these marvels of science that you find yourself frozen in a world of frustration.

On a recent trip to Paris for a writing workshop, I used all my I-thingies to prepare for my trip.

I studied French on my Ipad and occasionally used the French dictionary stored in my I-phone.  I thought, “This time my trip to Paris will be special because I will be able to converse better than the last time I went.”  I was so looking forward to doing that, that I engaged the services of a private tutor, who told me that my pronunciation and accent were reasonably good.  Armed with an abundance of confidence and my French translation software, I hit the ground running at Charles de Gaulle Airport, which was the beginning of my newest pet peeve!

I spoke to the concierge at the airport information desk in my best French, and I was immediately answered in English.  Okay, they are probably very used to English speaking people roaming aimlessly about the airport looking for their gates, restroom facilities and/or baggage claim.  It would be prudent for them to speak in English in order to move things along. But then I found that wherever I went, whenever I spoke French, people in every situation were answering me in English!  I cannot tell you what a disappointment this is when you have spent so much time studying another language.  I know they are not responsible for teaching me or even for helping me to improve, but hey!  Cut the girl a break here – she’s trying… .

The final straw occurred on my last day in Paris, in the elevator to the flat that I rented. 

The elevator was only barely large enough for two people, or one person and a piece of luggage. I situated myself in the elevator with a large backpack and a shopping bag, and before the doors could close, a young man holding a motor bike helmet in his hands rushed to squeeze into the elevator with me and – too quickly for me to catch all the words – said something in French.  Since he addressed me in French, I responded in French, “Quel etage?” I asked (which floor?).  He quickly said to me in English, “Fifth floor please.”  Suddenly, I felt the urge to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

After a few seconds passed, I turned to look him in the eye and I asked, “Why is it that whenever I speak French around here, I am answered in English?”  And he seriously said this to me:  “Because you must use your French more often.”  Okay…I thought that was exactly what I had been doing!

So, I suppose the next time I travel to France I should speak in Pig Latin so that I will be answered, hopefully and finally, in French!

A prochain Mardi!!

(See you next Tuesday!)

Read more posts by Claire Butler, blogger for JenningsWire.


The online feature magazine, JenningsWire.com, is created by National PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR that specializes in providing book promotion services to self-published and traditionally published authors. Annie Jennings PR books authors, speakers and experts on major high impact radio talk interview shows, on local, regionally syndicated and national TV shows and on influential online media outlets and in prestigious print magazines and newspapers across the country.