The new normal


Last week I was at the nearby Franprix grocery store buying some toilet paper. It was early, midweek, so the cash registers were under staffed and the lines long. Too bad for me, because we really needed that toilet paper.

Fortunately, a second cashier came over and went to work. Things were going quite orderly as the second person in line moved over to the newly opened cash, and I started to migrate there as well, having been fourth in line and the third person staying firmly put. A woman came darting in from the very end of the line and tried to get in front of me, but I deftly squeezed by. I am used to the French art of not queueing and particularly adept at blocking line busting Parisiennes.

As I got to the cash register the rude woman elbowed me in the kidneys. I pushed back gently. She elbowed again, harder this time.

“You’re hitting me,” I informed her, naively incapable of believing she was doing it intentionally.
“You deserve it, you got in front of me.”
“I was already in front of you, you tried to jump the line!”
“That is no excuse!” she responded indignantly.

I took my bags and stomped out of the store really angry. Annoyed at myself for not having the perfect retort and angry. So angry, that I swung back around, causing the large double doors to open nearly the entire façade of the store and began screaming at the woman, calling her all kinds of horrible names and informing her that I was sick and tired of people who were unhappy and felt the need to take it out on others. IN FRENCH! I wasn’t even drunk and I was giving somebody what for in French! I turned back on my heels and stormed off trembling and completely ashamed of my behaviour, mortified at the thought of the cashiers and the two dozen other clients who had seen me loose it.

YSL sandals

confession shoes

Once home I called Pam. Pam is my bff from NY, a Yoga Maverick and my personal confessor. She is the woman I count on to redeem my soul when I’ve eaten one too many chouquettes, or purchase the ridiculously expensive sandals I’ve been coveting for three years.

Yoga Maverick laughed and told me that it really was better to handle these things calmly and not to let people “like that” influence me. She then ordered my penitence; a namasté, three sun salutations. and a series of letting-go breaths.

My Parisiennes informed me that it would have been better to just elbow the woman back, sparing the other shoppers a scene. Les filles closed the topic, unwittingly quoting the book Le Divorce, with a Gallic shrug, “C’est normal.”

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8 thoughts on “The new normal

  1. Thank you for bringing back memories of so many years ago although I was not as savvy as you retorting back in french being a newbie at the time! The only thing that redeemed me was that I let the older ones get away with it. NOW, it is going to be my turn!

  2. Even though I’m all about yoga and not letting people unduly influence my actions, it’s REALLY annoying when someone jumps in front of me in line. When it happened at CityPharma yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t resist telling the woman that there was a line for the cash register. As soon as I said something, all of the French people chimed in and she moved to the back of the line. Your post made me realize that I’m always the first one to say something when someone cuts in line. Does this mean that the French people are handling it covertly by gouging each other in the kidneys? Is that what I’m supposed to do rather than play the policeman and say something out loud?

  3. I was just thinking how impressed I am with the fact that you did all this abuse IN FRENCH when you were so angry!…obviously becoming a true Pariseinne.

    I get very frustrated in Paris with queue jumpers….just not the done thing in Britain! goes against all my cultural norms.( they would get lynched here!) but my French is not good enough to even comment!

    Love from Bolton

    Ps Love the shoes, worth doing a penance for.

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