Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Add to Google Reader or HomepageThis morning, as I was about to enter the bakery to get my daily baguette, a young boy ran past me and into the shop. He asked for a baguette, handed the clerk a 5 euro bill, took his change and darted out of the bakery. The clerk looked at me and shook her head. “Il est entrĂ© sans dire ‘bonjour’, il a pris sa baguette et il est parti et il n’a dit  ni ‘merci’, ni ‘au revoir’.  Les enfants ces jours-ci!» (“He came in without saying ‘hello,’ he took his baguette and left but did not say ‘thank you’ or ‘good-bye’. Kids these days!”)

I suppose that worrying about kids and their lack of manners is universal – and the older I get, the more I worry.

The incident made me think of a list that I saw recently at The list was: 11 ways to humiliate yourself in France. Number one on the list was: “Fail to say ‘bonjour’”. (To see the list of 11 no-no’s to avoid in France, go to: )

I have gotten better about being sure to say ‘bonjour’ no matter whether it is at a shop, a box store or a social gathering but I am far from perfect. For instance, the other day, when my American friend Ray was with me, I could not find something in the grocery store, so I stopped a clerk and asked where I would find X? He stopped and said ‘Bonjour’ and after I replied with my own ‘bonjour’ he took me to the aisle where X was located. – and yes, I was embarrassed. I am most often guilty of failing to say ‘bonjour’ to everyone at a social gathering. If there is a roomful of people, I will often say ‘bonjour’ only to the host or those close by…

A little civility goes a long way. It takes almost no time at all and shows a level of respect that we have lost or have forgotten.

And if you think I have bad French manners, think about the kids these days!