Monday, 22 September 2014

Awkward situation

Here's the deal: A new employee started in my company a few weeks ago and he happens to be French. You probably wonder what is awkward about this because I'm French myself. I should feel at ease, considering we speak the same language, right?

Well, it's actually the most awkward situation I've been in for a long time. I'm the only French person in the company, so I'm not used to speak French at work (except when I curse, but in that case I'm usually talking to myself). My colleagues try to speak French too sometimes: "Sacrebleu, Kermit, ouh la la, Petit filou"... So that's pretty much it. I would never have a full conversation in French with anybody. 

The thing is, English is the spoken language in the company, so I would never dare talking my native language with a colleague in front of other employees because that's just plain rude. 

Back to our guy. We were introduced in between two doors, nothing really official. We shook hands, he said "Bonjour", I replied "Hello". And after that, we never really spoke to each other. Here's my problem (and you're going to think I'm nuts, which I probably am anyway): I'm intimidated by him. He's at least 15 years older than me and I didn't mention it before but he's a manager, so am I suppose to say "vous" or "tu"? This is is a big thing in French culture, and as you can see below, there are A LOT of rules. 
Source: LA Times

I don't work at "Le Google" (although that would be cool), he is probably half a generation older, and I wasn't even born in May 68 so I definitely have to say "Vous" to him. On the other hand, he's probably in Ireland for a long time so it might not make any difference to him. Or maybe he's one of these arrogant French expat who never mixes with locals and are even more "French" when they're abroad (it does exist, trust me).

I guess I will never find out if I don't talk to him. I just don't know what to say or how to start the conversation. He hasn't made any efforts either, so why should I? Someone suggested I talked about the weather! Now that's really Irish isn't it? 

So here's where I am at the moment. I don't want to speak French, but he keeps saying "Bonjour" which in my opinion means if we ever have a conversation, it will be in French. 

But you know what, maybe he's thinking exactly the same as me and it means we will never ever talk to each other.

Awkward is an understatement.