I say that not just because I love having you here, but because we have learned one incredibly valuable lesson that has made our travel easier and allows us to make small connections with other people: Learn how to say “Thank you” in the native tongue. “Hello” is great also, but thank goes a long way.
Today, we experienced both ends of the Parisian spectrum when the apartment cleaner unexpectedly showed up. Either we weren’t told he was coming or we forgot. No matter. We were about to do yoga, but quickly shifted to petit dejeuner (my favorite meal mostly because it consists of coffee and sometimes a cute cookie or, if you’re really lucky, a little cup of chocolate mousse).
We went for a little stroll and passed three or four cafes. We randomly picked one and, as is the custom, sat down at an outdoor table. Then … nothing. The waiter was inside setting up tables. OK, this is France, service is slow, it’s beautiful and we’re in no hurry. She came outside to set up the tables out there. She definitely saw us but still … nothing. We tried to shrug it off, but after 15 minutes we got up, walked a few feet and sat down at a different cafe.
This time, Steven did go it and make ourselves known, but this waiter was smiling. He came out almost immediately and took our order (cafe latte e cafe). The waiter asked us something and Steven answered, “Si.” We are having trouble learning Spanish while we try to remember some rudimentary French. I said, “oui.” The waiter said, “Si, oui, yes” and then something in French which I took to mean “It’s all good,” and we laughed.
So, you’re just about at the end of your patience in finding out what all this has to do with saying thank you overseas, but never fear, here it comes: In due course, our coffees arrived and we said, “Merci, gracias.” Then the waiter started to say “your welcome” in several languages. We kept this up as we paid l’addition as well, leading him to ask us where we were from. Not a deep conversation, but a connection where one might not have happened.
Here’s the list of the ones we have so far:
There will be a lot of gracias in our future, I’m sure, but I’d love to expand my “thank you” list. Please is also a good one to know. Feel free to add to the list, s’il vous plait.