27 May 2009

Train, train, go away come again another day

todays train travel went smoothly (thank my lucky stars!) but there was a lot of it!

day started at 6a. got up, checked out and hopped on the tube to the st pancras station. got onto our eurostar (chunnel) train with no problems. went to the food car to get a coffee, yogurt, and croissant to use up the rest of my pounds (i actually used up the pounds we had leftover from our trip to jersey island). mom was enamored with her yoplait yogurt because it came in a piece of pottery she insisted on keeping it.

once we arrived in paris, we easily got on the métro line #4 south to the montparnasse train station. 20 minutes later we arrived. here was my real "fingers crossed" moment. SNCF (the company who runs the french trains) had declared a strike and some of the trains were canceled, but i didnt know which ones. we got up to the big board and saw our train listed as on-time, success!

while i was distracted with joy, a woman approached me. she was dressed normally and seemed to have a question. while registering that i was giving her the time of day, i realized she was a beggar. i then said "sorry, no" but she kept at it. "do you have any change?" "no" "do you have any small coins?" "no." then she switched to talking to my mom. i spoke up and said "no, she doesnt have anything either." the lady then switched to begging, level 2. asking my why i was speaking for her when she could speak for herself...and proceeded to ask for some change. i said "this is my mother, she doesnt speak french and we dont have change." she stepped it up to begging, level 3. she started telling me i was rude and my french was bad and she started to correct my pronunciation. at this point my mom was saying "no merci...au revoir." then the lady decided to pull out level 4, the f-bomb. she said "you are not nice. you are mean. fuck you." i said..."thats nice." she said fuck you a few more times and walked off.

thats my only encounter with a beggar that turned out like that. often they are quite polite, even when i ignore them or say "sorry, no." my general rule, anywhere, is never to give money to street people. i dont discriminate, if you arent making music or doing something constructive, i cant donate money to that. not if youre sleeping, drinking, kneeling, walking around with a sign, asking me to translate something, using your dog as bait, or parading around dirty children for sympathy. nope. this lady tried a new approach on me...nope, nothing.

anyway, our train arrived on time, we boarded and departed on time. when we arrived in rennes we had had enough of the train for one day. after mom got settled in her hotel, we walked to the franco-american institute to get her hooked up with a book. she chose her favorite...to kill a mockingbird. good comfort book away from home. then we hit a bakery for a snack before i headed off to work.

after work dave and i went out with mom to find a crêperie. its a regular tuesday night...and none of our regular crêperies are open...why? i dont know. so we settle on something else nearby. the crêpes were mediocre but the lady owner was a hoot. she had no one else to talk to so she jabbered away to us about her rum in the rum raisin ice cream crêpe she made for my mom. half-buzzed, my mom was laughing at her nonsense talk which encouraged the lady to bring over her dish of seashells and give us the life story behind every animal that lived in those shells, including whether or not they tasted good (of course a frenchwoman would know this). weird night.

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