Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sometimes pretending not to speak English can backfire...

I've used this trick a few times since I live here. In the early years I still had my French car, and I was supposed to get it registered after six months, but I kept it for four years... So one day, when the Garda (the Irish police) stopped me, I pretended I didn't speak a word of English. In fairness, I was driving my car back to France a couple of months after so I didn't see the point of getting a fine or admitting I had been in the illegality for four years...  Don't worry, I have an Irish car now and I pay my road tax. I am fully compliant with the Irish Authorities !

Anyway, my sister came over from France last week and we went shopping. In the Shopping Centre, there were a lot of young people going around with "charity buckets". It's very common at this time of the year, but my sister was very surprised as this doesn't happen in France at all. I guess French people are not as generous as the Irish ones... 

At the exit, and just besides the car park pay station, there was a charity stall for the Paralympics. They were selling wristbands and other stuff, they were also asking for donations. From the distance, they looked quite "pushy" with people. I didn't want to engage in a conversation of why I didn't want to donate, and I only had a few euros to pay the car park anyway.

Then, this stupid idea crossed my mind. I said to my sister: "Let's pretend we don't speak English". Well, it was easy for her, because she doesn't ( except after a few drinks...). For me it was a bit more difficult, because trust me, trying to pretend you don't speak a language you're completely fluent in, is actually hard. 

I don't know why I didn't let my sister do the talking... Anyway after two words, the guy asked us where we were from. And when we said France, he started to speak French ! I have to say, I was impressed because his French was quite good. I felt even more stupid as I tried to explain in a "pretend" broken English that I only had change for the car park.

The guy told us to wait a minute - in French of course-. At this point we thought we were free, but he came back with... a credit card machine!!

We declined, obviously, and he was OK with that, but I will never try to pretend I don't speak English again. It would have been less complicated to say " No thanks, I don't have change" and walk away. 

Lesson learned I guess...