Monday, September 03, 2007

A Lesson in French Etiquette

Gare Montparnasse is one of the train stations of Paris. There the four old Americans waited in the information line. As soon as they got to the front of the line, they asked, in English, when was the next train to Chartres. The man in the information booth smiled at these old Americans in a bored way. He winked at le petit cheval. He leaned his arms against the counter, sighed, and said, “bon jour, how are you?” Le Petit Cheval knew exactly what was going on here—this man, who works all day answering many questions for many people in many languages had decided to teach these four impatient Americans a lesson in French etiquette. He did not mind that the line was full of people. He just wanted to be treated like a person, not an information machine.

“First you say “bon jour,” the little horse wrote to his sister Bel Canto. “Then people are always friendly and helpful.” It was a lesson the little horse never forgot.


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