by Lillian Csernica on April 6, 2016
The one weekend I spent in Paris included a trip to the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Staring straight up through the tower to its very top was such a dizzying experience I didn’t dare ascend to view the City of Lights from that historic height.
The bus tour of Paris I’d taken allowed us a chunk of time on Sunday afternoon to go shopping. I wanted a gold pendant of the Eiffel Tower for my mother. Off I went through a department store. Mind you, I was 18 then, and the extent of my French was “Parlez-vous Anglais?” More often than not, I got a curt “Non.”
When I finally found the jewelry department, I also found a sales woman who clearly did not like the sight of me nor the sound of my bad French accent. At that point I’d had more than enough of being dismissed. It is an unfortunate truth, but if there is one language universally spoken by salespeople, it is that of Money. I took out my entire supply of traveler’s checks, fanned them out, held them up to Madame Francais, and asked, “Parlez-vous American Express?”
She was quickly replaced by Raoul, a charming young man who spoke perfect British English and was the soul of courtesy. He showed me the range of pendants available, from one as tiny as my little fingernail to one big enough to land a swordfish!
I exchanged the appropriate amount of traveler’s checks, made my purchase, and departed feeling victorious. When it comes to making my mother happy, do not mess with me! 😀