I was at the train station counter in Normandy, inquiring about purchasing a ticket when I heard a bit of excitement coming from just a few feet away.
I looked to my right and saw one of the agents gesticulating animatedly and holding very little back as far as the way she was feeling about ... something.
"That's it. From now on if they want information, they can just go online or ask someone else. I am not going to put up with this. I don't have to put up with this."
As she pushed her chair away from her desk, I could see many of her co-workers (including the one who was helping me) shake their head in sympathy.
I had seen nor heard nothing. I had noticed a couple talking with her when I walked in, but really nothing special. The couple was now gone, and the place was pretty quiet.
That's when she added, in case someone (like me) had not noticed: "If they can't even take the time to say goodbye, then I don't have to take the time to help them."
And I am censoring a bit.
What had happened? Well, a couple - definitely not French - had come to her counter, asked for some information, received that information, and walked away. Maybe they smiled, maybe they muttered a quiet thank you, I am not sure. But apparently they had not said goodbye. And for a country who is really big on hellos and goodbyes (you would not think of walking into a bakery without saying "Bonjour!" to everyone there), they had committed a big boo-boo.
I had not been in my country more than three hours and already I was feeling tender about our sensitivities. We may smoke in between courses, we may have questionable public bathrooms, but for god's sake don't serve us day old pastries and don't ever, ever forget to say goodbye.
We all have our agreements, the things that work, and the things that don't work. People have them, countries have them. The things that are okay, the things that itch like wool, the things that make our stomachs, or our noses, turn.
I think that's pretty sweet.
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January 10 to 20, 2019
Guadeloupe, French Caribbean
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