Thursday, 1 May 2014

A Funny Thing Happened to Me in the Street the Other Day

I was walking through one of the posh suburbs of Paris. In front of me, a young couple who looked around high school age were strolling along, chatting in French, the girl with an unlit cigarette in her hand. I overtook them, and as I walked past, I heard the girl say, "It's so annoying - all the people we see are so obviously not smokers. You would think it would be easier to find someone to give us a light."

What  cracked me up was that as she said that, she switched to speaking in English, presumably on the assumption that I wouldn't understand.

Maybe in time she'll realise that that trick doesn't really work in Paris, and certainly not in the expat heartlands of the western suburbs. In the meantime, I'm enjoying trying to figure out what marks me out as "so obviously a non-smoker" to someone who didn't even realise that I might understand English.


  1. I heard that the joke, these days, is people asking for a plug for their electronic cig ;-)

  2. Ha yeah, the number of times I've heard people talking English thinking no-one would understand. Highlights being the tourists on the bus in Nice complaining how much everyone stank (hopefully not me) and the bunch of American college students on the bus in Tours discussing how often they peed every day REALLY loudly. Not so discreet...

  3. Back in my early days in France I definitely got myself in trouble once or twice thinking people wouldn't understand my English. I also, amazingly enough, got myself into trouble once in the US trying to speak in French. Who would have thought there would be so many French speakers at some random bar in Cleveland!