Canada is a bilingual nation, and while I’ve lived most of my life in regions where French is not necessary for daily living, I’m currently situated just kilometres from Quebec, which means that a large percentage of careers in this city require fluency in French.
I’m fortunate however, because in my current position at a map specialty store it is enough for my employers that I am well-rounded culturally and speak German at an intermediate level. But that’s not to say that I’m neglecting my French. There are plenty of opportunities for me to polish up my rusty français on a daily basis. Here are those conversations:
To a French couple upon paying and leaving the store
Me: Merci! Bonne journée! (Have a good day)
Customer at Cash: “___________________” [Says something long and complicated in French]
Me: [Concentration face – or blank stare, depending on how you interpret it].
CaC: I thought you spoke French.
Me: Not really.
CaC: You had me fooled! Your accent is perfect.
Me: [Hand him back his change]. Merci! Bonne journée!
Customer: “Parlez-vous français?” (Do you speak French?)
Me: Un petit peu (a little bit). [I say this with confidence. I don’t know why. It never worked in my favour in Thailand).
Customer: Je cherche ____________________________. (“I’m looking for…” something I don’t understand.)
Me: [I respond with my never-fail answer]. So you’re looking for a map?
French customer approaches cash. I’m feeling confident. Though I responded in English, I understood all of her French in an earlier exchange.
Me: [Ringing her through at cash. The total is $20.17]. “Vingt….” [I look down shamefully.] “Seventeen.”
Customer: [With an encouraging smile] Dix-sept.
I try again.
Me: Vingt dix-sept!
Me: Merci! Bonne journée!
Clearly I’ve mastered the phrase, “Thank you, have a good day.” Goal this week: Learn to ask, “Would you like a bag?