Ruminations of an American spending a year abroad in France.
Since my wife was busy with end of the semester grading, I volunteered to do a little shopping. I made the mistake of going to Auchan on a Saturday afternoon. This is a store very similar to a super Wal-mart, it's got everything. It was absolutely packed. People everywhere looking for food, drinks, magazines, car parts, and everything else imaginable.
Shopping in France is always interesting for me, even on a good day. You try reading the ingredients on the back of a package when you don't understand the language it's written in, and see where you get. Luckily, today I had a small list and most of the items were pretty obvious. Although I spent 20 minutes looking at vacuum bags before giving up and moving on. Unlike most Wal-marts I have ever been in, Auchan actually had all of their check out aisles open. But there were still a million people in each aisle with shopping carts loaded full. I took my place in a relatively short line full of people with only 10 or 11 items versus the 50 or 60 items per person in the other aisles.
Quickly another lady joins my line behind me. She puts her bags down behind my basket on the floor and says something. I have learned to basically ignore everyone here versus being pulled into a conversations I can't possibly understand, or respond to with any sense. Normally this procedure works because I can briskly walk away from whomever, and be on my way without any embarrassment or misunderstanding.
But this time I was stuck in a slow moving line and had to attempt comprehension. All I could understand from her smiling lips was "vert," the French word for green. I quickly ran through a list of questions that could possibly contain the word green. I came up with none. Sensing I didn't understand, the lady asked me again, this time kneeling towards her bags on the floor and pointing at my basket. Was she asking me if she could use my basket? What kind of nut ball question is that? And besides my basket is most definitely red and the French word for red (rouge) sounds nothing like green.