Tuesday, June 20, 2006
My cashier greeted me with "Bonjour Madame" just as her eyes welled with tears. Her coworker came to console her by massaging her shoulders as she swiped my laundry detergent across the scanner. It seemed odd that he wouldn't just relieve her so she could have her break down in the break room. They were speaking in loud whispers. I assumed someone had died; otherwise it didn't make sense to me why this young French woman would be so free with her emotions in public. It's not that I'm insensitive. Pre-Fred I had my fair share of public crying. But, I've heard that the French generally are very private people (and once they warm to you, you'll have a friend for life). It wasn't until I heard her utter the words "méchant" and "égoïste" (mean and selfish) - words I've heard before, but we don't need to go there - that I realized anger, not sadness, was the reason for her red eyes. I'm usually a gawker in situations like this. I've asked Fred to walk-by feuding couples again so he could translate their arguments. A request that is always refused. But this time, I was more sad and less curious that she was so upset, and sadder yet that I couldn't offer some words of encouragement. Like, buy RID, it totally works; or it only burns the first three days. Instead, I could only look at her with what I hoped were sympathetic eyes and an understanding smile as she handed me my change. I think it worked because as I walked away she said "Merci Mademoiselle" - or maybe she just wasn't paying attention. I'm going with the former as it happens so infrequently.