The Gallic Shrug

Please let it be known that I adore almost everything French. Nothings galls me more than to have someone who has never visited the country of France go on and on about how rude the French are. It’s just not true. Cultural differences do not constitute rudeness.

But all that being said, I do hate the “gallic shrug.”

I don’t know where the expression first came from, but anyone who has ever visited France has seen it many times. It involves the raising of the shoulders with palms facing the sky and the lower lip stuck out. It can be interpreted in many ways.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you expect me to do about it?”

“Tell it to someone who cares.”

My sister got a first hand dose of it when she asked the scary night clerk at our hotel why her phone wouldn’t work. According to him, it was my sister’s problem, not his. Nothing he could do about it. She suggested that perhaps he had turned it off somehow. He was skeptical. Until he realized that he had done just that.

I was on the receiving end of a world-class shrug when I asked the Air France stewardess if she could get me any information on our connecting flight on the return trip. You see, the French air traffic controllers had declared a two hour strike just as we were boarding. Just enough time to make us miss our connection at JFK. “No madame, I cannot find out any information for you…that is a Delta flight.

“Aren’t Air France and Delta partners?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “We are partners, but I cannot give you any of that infomation.”

Delta might want to rethink the concept of partner in this case.

So…if your only encounter with the French was these two, then you might indeed have a negative perception….especially if you’re from a Southern city that’s routinely named among the friendliest in the country. But we met many delightfully helpful people as well. Like the two women who stopped us on the sidewalk to tell us that the wait for the Rodin Museum was two hours. It took a few tries for me to get their pantomine, but we finally communicated. Or the woman at the restaurant who was so embarrassed and apologetic when we pointed out her error on our bill.

In my mind, you might as well stay home if the only places you travel to are exactly like the one you left.

Same people. Same food. Same language. Same scenery.

Putting up with the occasional Gallic Shrug is a small price to pay for visiting Paris. It’s like having a side dish you don’t really like on the plate with an otherwise fantastic meal. Just push it to one side and enjoy everything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Travel

5 responses to “The Gallic Shrug

  1. Julie Fisher

    Thank you for the third-to-the-last paragraph. Thank you for the second-to the-last paragraph. And Thank you for the last paragraph. Boy, do they say it all!!! Amen, Cindy.

  2. CECIL EWIN

    CINDY,,,,I READ YOUR BLOG RIGHT BEFORE YOU ALL LEFT & IT CRACKED ME UP & I LAUGHED ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT.
    PLEASE PUT ME ON YOUR “BLOG LIST” , AS I REALLY LIKE READING YOUR WRITINGS !!!

    I agree with every single word you said about
    getting out of your “COMFORT ZONE ” & get a taste of the world & other wonderful cultures.
    Some people just are not interested in other places, etc & I do feel VERY sorry for them , that they are LIMITED in their “INTERESTS”.
    THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING ……..

  3. Harriet Keyes

    Hi Cindy!!
    Love your blogs and so glad you enjoyed France.
    The people can be either extra nice and helpfull or act like they have just met up with a sorry dog!! I found the ones in the country the best natured but then again they were taking my money as I bought something to eat so go figure!!
    Weclome back!
    Harriet

  4. Whitney

    I should have taken a video of the “gallic shrug”. Oh so funny!

  5. Pingback: Lemuria « HereInFranklin’s Weblog

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