Wednesday, July 07, 2004

There's Nothing Like Shopping In France When You Can't Speak French!

This morning, I made my weekly grocery shopping trip to Gèant in St. Louis, France. Once per week, I drive Mrs. The Big Finn to work, go to Gèant, stop at the French dry cleaner, and then it's back home to Reinach. I like grocery shopping in France. For one thing, it's a lot cheaper than Switzerland. Secondly, they have a MUCH larger variety of stuff than either Coop or Migros - the main Swiss grocery stores. Another thing I like - and probably the best thing of all - is that I don't speak French. You might think that this would be a hindrance (sometimes it is), but for the most part it ends up being relaxing. The reason is - since I don't understand anything anybody is saying around me, I have NO distractions. I used to feel this way in Switzerland, but now my German has become good enough that I can kind of understand what people are saying, and I find that I'm always trying to eavesdrop on conversations. I can no longer read a book or a newspaper on the tram. I'm too distracted. France? No problem! While waiting in the check-out line at Gèant, I've had people speak to me for probably thirty seconds (in French) before I realized that they were even speaking to me. By then, it's too late to respond anyway, so they probably think I'm just some large, rude Frenchman. At the dry cleaner, I'm always asked something in French when I drop off the clothes and I just give them a confused look...NO PROBLEM. I actually found out after about two years of doing this (from a Swiss Airlines flight attendant who was behind me in line) that they are asking me if there are any stains that need to be pre-treated. Now, I know enough to just say "Oui" and point, or I just say "Non, merci." It's amazing how little speaking I actually do some days. Mrs. TBF often asks me if I spoke with anybody during the day, and the answer often is: "Only to Dominique (our dog) and King (our cat)".
I'm into week two of my gym being closed for summer vacation, and I'm enjoying it. I like working out, but it's pretty nice being a total schlub for a couple of weeks per year. I don't fell like I've gained weight, but I definitely feel like laziness is setting in. That cross-trainer is going to be a bitch when I get back from vacation next week...making a total of three weeks without exercise.

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