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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Things I learned from an 8 year old

On a recent flight from Edmonton to Montreal, the young man beside me was thoroughly enjoying himself, watching tv shows, eating snacks, fiddling with the electronics, as any young man would. It was his first time flying alone, but he was doing just fine. Shortly before our scheduled arrival, there was an announcement that we could not land in Montreal due to a possible tornado, and would be diverted to Toronto instead.


Nicholas went from the time of his life to a very sad young man in moments.


Me: everything okay?
Him: No. I have to get to Montreal!
Me: Yes we all do, even the pilot. We will just be later than planned.


Him: Yes but I need to get there now. My grandparents are waiting for me.
Me: Well there will be an announcement in Montreal as well so they will know what is happening.       Also we could call your grandparents from Toronto if you want.


Him: They only have an old fashioned phone, so they can't bring it with them. 
Me: Oh I see


Him: And besides I need to eat dinner and I don't have any money. (He had so far consumed a chocolate bar, Pringles, cookies, ice cream and a whole bag of licorice.
Me: Well if you need dinner we can arrange that.


Him: And I need to be in bed by 8 or I can never get to sleep for days! (Because if you miss your bedtime apparently the punishment is extreme sleep deprivation?)
Me: Well the good news is that it is still only 6 in Alberta, so you are not late yet.


Him: And we paid for a direct flight, not one that lands in Toronto.
Me: Yes I think we are all wishing we could go straight to Montreal, but we will get there eventually.


Having put some of these fears aside for a moment, he began to notice the rather exciting turbulence caused by the storm. We talked about what was going on and decided to pretend we were on the best ride ever at the fair. This is where my learning escalated.


Him: You know if the ceiling fell down right now it would fall on your head not mine, and all the stuff is up there so it might all fall down on you.
Me: Well I am going to just believe it won't fall down.


Him: You know what happens if the plane goes into the tornado? We will get swept up in it and land in Montreal
Me: (Absolutely no response to this one)


Him: You know which airline is never safe to fly on?
Me: Hoping he would not say "Air Canada" no
Him: Dirt Cheap Air
Me: Makes sense!


We did spend some time in Toronto before making our way to Montreal. And I wondered if I should offer Air Canada some extra money for the entertainment on board. Nicholas certainly took my mind off of my own troubles during our time together. I also gained some insight into what 8 year old boys might worry about, (eating and sleeping) and what they find simply interesting (crashing ceilings, being swept up in a tornado).



Friday, July 6, 2012

What is different in Paris?

I am often asked what I find most different about living in Paris compared to my most recent country of residence, the US. The answer is "everything", but I thought it might be more helpful to create a short list.

When my hairstylist in America drops a comb she disinfects it before using it again. 
  • When my stylist in Paris drops a comb he gives it a little puff of hot air from the blow drier.


It takes about 90 minutes for a color, cut and style in the US.

  • It takes half a day for the same service in Paris.


When I go to my American doctor I am given a gown to protect my modesty before my exam.

  • In Paris I just take off all my clothes. As the radiologist said to me "It's only the two of us here and I am about to see everything anyway"!


When I am at the pharmacy in the US I am allowed to quietly ask for my prescriptions without ever saying "antibiotics for a urinary infection" or other embarrassing things.

  • At a pharmacy in Paris you are likely to get a lesson in suppository use in front of the other 12 people waiting.


In the US I tip the bartender well when I get my first drink, and am likely to get good service for the rest of the evening.

  • In Paris tipping at the bar is not expected or encouraged and has no effect on subsequent service. And why would you need a second drink anyway?


In the US I am offended if the waiter does not stop by shortly after delivering my food to ask if everything is okay.

  • In Paris the waiter assumes everything is okay and will not interrupt the enjoyment of your meal.


In the US we think we are being ignored if we are not served immediately.

  • In Paris it would be rude to rush the customers, who are expected to discreetly signal when they are ready to order.


In the US if a guy says "You are so beautiful", you expect the next sentence to be "Will you marry me"? (I say this with a certain degree of sarcasm since American men are not known for their willingness to risk it all with a compliment to a woman who is not a sure thing.)

  • In Paris you actually do get compliments like this frequently, and the next sentence is often, well nothing or something actually. It was just a compliment, or it was the opening line of a seduction. Usually time will tell.