Say, for instance, you have information you would like to share with a person unknown to you; how do you do this? I can only think of one way, which is by leaving a note.
Not so in France. Here people just wait until they run into a person who might be the person to whom they want to convey information. The first time this happened, I was legitimately annoyed that Monsieur le président of the co-op I’m living in made such a big deal about how I had been breaking the rules. At the time, I pointed out that I hadn’t known about the regulations but as soon as I was informed, I amended my behavior. Problem solved.
Jump to early this month when I’d been waiting for a package from my mother and there was no sign of it. Correos, the national Spanish postal system (which is a complete joke), had provided her with a tracking number which revealed only that the box had been entregado (turned in/delivered) on the 8th. A week later, my mother filed a claim at her post office and I was set to head to mine and see if I could get any answers on this end. As I was checking the mailbox one last time, a woman rushed me from the opposite side of the street.
“Are you Madame XXXX?” she said, breathlessly.
“No,” I said, “I’m Mademoiselle YYYY, Monsieur XXXX’s subletter. Is there a problem?”
“Oh! I’m so glad to have found you! I check to see if your light is on every time I come home!”
I looked at her blankly because there wasn’t really anything for me to respond to and that’s when she added, “I have a package of yours! I’ve had it for over a week and kept hoping to run into you!”
She went on to tell me that she’d been in the lobby when the mailman attempted delivery and, as they both noticed that the box was insured and “international,” they determined it must be important. It apparently seemed best to them that my neighbor, a woman who’s never seen me, sign for it which she did. But then she didn’t leave me a note that she had it. For over a week. And there were perishable items inside. At this point in her story I got really pissed but I didn’t express it because she had my god damn package and I really wanted it.
When I picked it up at her apartment a while later, she told me that she’d been up to ring my doorbell “every night” but I was never home. I told her that I never hear the doorbell and was desperate to add, “If you came by EVERY NIGHT and there was never an answer, WHY DIDN’T YOU LEAVE A GOD DAMN NOTE?” but I decided that it would be more poli to just take the box and get the hell out of there.
French people don’t leave notes. Ever. Even for important things. Connards.
The title of this post courtesy of Arrested Development‘s “Pier Pressure” episode. AD is the funniest American show ever broadcast (UK’s is Fawlty Towers) and is finally coming back this summer (May 5!!!) after being off the air for six years. If you have never seen it, now’s your chance to get caught up. Amusingly, in French the show is called Les Nouveaux Pauvres which is a pun and therefore great.