Thursday, October 20, 2022

Standing in Line

 Standing in lines at the Friday farmer’s market I have time to slow down. The other day I realized I was listing out things I have learned during all these minutes— more like  hours— of standing waiting for a package of heart shaped goat cheese or a baguette baked with local grains. 

My simple list of basic observations made me think of the phrase “everything I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” - I know that isn’t really the exact quote but this is how it is in my brain.

Instead of being a young kindergartener soaking up life I’m now an old dog learning new tricks. That kindergarten child was playing with a bunch of rambunctious friends. This old timer is standing quietly in lines with well-practiced French folks. My observations have revealed a lot about how to best experience the French culture.

1.  The best foods are where there is a long line. And you always want the best.

2.  You will have to wait patiently for your turn to get the best.

3.  You better look for the end of the line because you will not be allowed to cut in.

4.  Listen to the conversations swirling around you, one day you will realize you are understanding the sing song of the locals.

5.  Observe how folks are dressed and what kind of basket they carry - better than any fashion magazine.

6.  Notice what others are buying and try it too.

7.  Be brave and ask questions about what you don’t know - how to cook something, why that cheese, what goes with that?

8.  People love to help, and they love to laugh at my accent and the simple things I don’t know. 

9.  Folks are generous.

10. Say hello. Say good bye.

11. Once you are at the head of the line you are queen for a moment.

12. Don’t touch things without first asking.

13. You may have to listen to others as they tell their life story before you get served. You cannot rush this.

14. Every vendor is extremely proud of what they have brought to the market. They will take time to explain anything you want to know. No-one standing behind you will say a thing.  They already know the rules.

15. The locals are thinking of you as a kindergartener.

16. LOOK. This was the first word in the first book of the Dick and Jane series.  For getting to the heart of the French culture, it is as important to this old learner as it was to the kid learning the ropes in kindergarten.


Kathie K said...

All so true!

The Idleman said...

Wonderful insight into a multicultural flavour in a Small Village in France
Brits don’t stand-in-line, they queue – it’s a national pastime
Brits invented the rules of queuing – it’s a national pastime
British rules preclude conversation while queuing – unless you have a dog as intermediary
As a result
French queues are more ordered
French will always converse while queuing – often about food but usually about their sundry medical conditions
French queues are more fun
French are keener about dogs and queuing than Brits think