Monday Dare: just in case

Every Monday, I’m picking from the List of Things to Try, Places to Go, Possible Acts that Help and Possible Fun to Have. It’s a list I made before The Project started and I’m still adding to it. If you have suggestions, please, feel free to throw them my way. I’m calling the list my Monday Dares, as I get overwhelmed just looking at the words “challenge” or “goal.”

This week: I will learn enough French to survive one weekend in a predominately French-speaking place.

A toilet attacked me in Paris two years ago. An elderly French gentleman tried to save me. His efforts proved to be futile, but I learned an invaluable lesson that day:

Practice selective thrift.

In this instance: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to finagle a free use from a pay-to-use outdoor pod restroom.

Don’t hang around a pod that is already occupied and wait for the door to open so that you can catch the sliding door before it shuts from the last “client’s” use. Let it shut! Here’s what happens when the door closes. Clever little spigots spray the interior with cleaners and disinfectants. If you jump in to save a few coins, guess who’s going to get cleansed and disinfected in an all-encompassing mist along with the toilet….YOU!

Bless you, Elderly Frenchman, wherever you are right now.

Elderly Frenchman did his best to warn me when I grabbed the sliding door, preventing it from shutting all the way and locking. He gave a rather long and animated explanation (with hand motions, even), pantomimed signs to let the door close, and made whirring noises while flailing his arms around. I didn’t understand a single word, so I smiled politely and threw in a “Merci” here and there for good measure.

He finally left, confident that he had schooled me thoroughly on pay-to-use toilets. He was wrong. I waited for him to turn the corner and slid inside. As soon as it closed, I understood what he was trying to say. A disinfecting is worth a thousand words….in any language.

That’s why I’m determined to learn (just barely) enough French to get around France. Or Canada. Or Djibouti.

I’m compiling a list of phrases to learn to avoid any future disasters. My list so far:

  • How much does this cost?
  • Can I have it for free?
  • Excuse me, sir, that is my buttocks. Please do not touch it.
  • Excuse me, ma’am, that is my buttocks. Please do not touch it.
  • You have an attractive face.
  • I am married.
  • No, I will never leave my husband. He is an excellent cook.

*Any suggestions for this list?

*Share your funny stories from travels elsewhere. If you don’t have one, then make one up; I’ll never know. Except, if I meet you one day in real life and I mention that time such and such happened, and you look at me with a blank stare. Then I’ll know you’re a liar. And we probably couldn’t be friends. You know what,  on second thought, don’t lie. If you don’t have an interesting story, just tell me a boring one. 

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