As most of you already know, I’m studying abroad this semester. Destination: somewhere exotic, unfamiliar, and filled with wonder. Paris, France. Ok, so not so exotic, and definitely familiar seeing as I used to live there and I speak the language. “Filled with wonder” hits the mark though—especially at Christmastime. I mean, les lumières, l’amour, la finesse, les croissants… it’s all there. What more could a girl ask for?
Let me now answer my rhetorical question
cus that’s what all the cool kids are doing. Politeness. Kindness. How about a little consideration? Or even just a smile. Well apparently, these are NOT things you will find at the French Embassy in Houston. However, if you call to ask about an appointment you have already scheduled, you may be lucky enough to find yourself promptly rushed off the phone by a shrilled-toned woman who curtly informs you, <<Je suis avec des clients>> as if you were telemarketer asking for donations for the Toenail Cancer Foundation of America. What ever happened to customer service? I wonder if there is a French translation for the phrase. If there is, they certainly haven’t gotten the concept down.
Now, when you drive down to the embassy itself, braving 45mins of bumper to bumper traffic
#hellwheels interrupted by the occasional infuriating lane-drifting cutter, #nosuicide, your luck will most likely continue in the same trajectory, #lawsofmotion. At this point, you will discover that the ill-tempered lady you spoke with is one of two irritable blonde women working the service counter at the office. They will then take turns losing their patience with you as you try to smile off their curt directives and exaggerated hand motions. Your appointment will end in an abrupt and accented, “I cannot help you, your application is incomplete.” Four visits, $65, half a tank of gas, and 3 fancy outfits later, you will discover that you must reschedule your flight because your visa will not arrive in time. Vive la Republique Française!!
All I know is that had better be an isolated incident of French impolitesse, because if this is the norm, Southern Belle JK (read: Southern hospitality) will soon exit the building, making way for Global South JK (read: you better watch yourself). Bisous!
—Just Kisses, JK