Today I present you with a guest post by my very own M. Yes, it’s true nepotism rears its ugly head. Guilty as charged. Add it to my list of reasons I know I’m turning French!
This weekend my best friend and I spent two days, one of them in the pouring rain, walking around Paris asking for money for an association for blind people. We volunteered to do this through school, having no idea what we would be dealing with: French people.
The multitude of excuses we were given cannot be put into words. The “I’m in a hurry” coming from someone smoking a cigarette, leaning on a wall were quite common as well as the simple but efficient “Non!”.
The best would be when people would reply, with a strong French accent, “I don’t speak French”. We simply looked at them with huge smiles stating that it was no big deal. None. At all. The thing is, that’s what I do when trying to avoid people coming up to me on the street asking for money or selling something. What these poor strangers didn’t know is that not only are we both perfectly bilingual in French and English but we have also been studying Spanish and Chinese for several years. We were therefore ready for any type of excuses thrown at us. However, French people don’t always need excuses
The best remains those who easily ignored our existence, walking off slightly elbowing us.
Some busy women or bored men would kindly smile, give us some change and walk away in the middle of our speech, one we had perfected throughout the day.
One young, obviously not poor woman laughed at our request saying she had no change and still asked for one of the stickers we were giving out. We didn’t know how to say no.
We did however get a few positive responses. To try to make it slightly more fun we would quizz those who dared talk to us for more than thirty seconds. One of the questions we would ask was “Which superhero was blind- Batman, Daredevil or The Hulk?” (the answer; Daredevil). A young guy in his twenties answered “It’s obviously Superman seeing the way he dresses”. After being on our feet for a few hours we decided to take a little rest and sat down at a café. The waiter, impressed by our work, gave us 4 euros without us even having to ask.
Surprisingly, the most generous were the tourists. They seemed genuinely interested, which was quite a relief after hours of rejection.
Overall, we never stopped badgering people no matter how rude or dismissive they were and walked away with almost 200 euros to help the blind.