The Sixth Estate
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
QUOTE OF THE DAY : "There are only two things I won't tolerate in this house. Racism and Constipation." - Karen Walker

SONG OF THE DAY : Elliot Smith - Sweet Adeline


When Envy breeds unkind division:
There comes the ruin, there begins confusion.

Tales from Europe.

"The bus doesn't run after 5 pm? Pourquoi?" I asked as stomach sank.

The kindly older woman said she didn't know, but offered to call me a cab. The stationary store had become my base of operations in Bretteville-sur-Laize, France.

"Uhhh... It will be 40 euros to get back to Caen." She told me in broken English.

"Oh... Damn... Well then forget that. Merci beaucoup, I'll figure something out." I replied.

As you can see, I was in the middle of nowhere.

I had taken the bus from Caen to this small town in Normandy earlier that day. I came to visit the grave of Everett Borgald, a relative of mine that had been killed in the subsequent weeks after D-Day. Aside from the fact that I had to walk 10 km through damp French country-side, the trip had been a success. I had paid my respects to my cousin, and been the first in my family to visit his grave. I now had to get back to Caen, where I was staying. Unfortunately, it appeared that the bus didn't go to Caen after a certain time. I was told this by the bus driver of the bus that I had been waiting 2 hours to catch. It was now dark and getting cold, so I returned to the nearby Stationary Store and had the previous conversation.

Then like some sort of ... French angel, a 30 something woman who had been waiting in line at the store asked what the problem was. The store owner explained my quandry to her, and then she spoke to me in French. To my amazement I understood. Explaining that she was going back to Caen in about 45 minutes, and that she just had to run some errands and pick up her daughter first. She said she'd be happy to give me a ride.

Thank you French class. Though I didn't know it at the time, what I learned saved my ass on this little venture. I understood what people were saying, and could converse to some degree with people thanks to my studies.

I was blown away by the kindness offered to me by a total stranger, and was only too happy to accept the ride.

After a trip to the grocery store we headed to her daughters basketball game. It was in a freezing cold gymnasium on top of a big hill in the middle of no where. Nothing like going to see the intramural basketball game of a strangers 10 year old daughter in small town France.

Oddly enough one of the kids was wearing a Toronto Raptors Vince Carter jersey. I thought that was pretty cool, and tried to tell the kid that I was from Toronto. It probably came out like this. "I Toronto come from. Nice shirt. Vince Carter good." Suffice it to say the kid was only mildly impressed.

Anyways after the game, I got my ride back to Caen. The drive featured mostly one sided conversation from mother and daughter directed at me. I did my best to converse, but as I've always said I understand it better than I speak it.

"Merci, Merci beaucoup! Thank you so much!" I said as they dropped me off at the train station.

It's a shame I can't even remember the woman's name, or that of her daughters. I bought my ticket, grabbed my bag from the hotel(There are noo auberge de jeunese in Caen in the winter.) and headed for Paris.

Since we're on the topic of France. I was most pleased to hear today that in the Liberals new budget $1.5 million has been allocated for the Juno Beach Centre in Courseau-sur-mer just north of Caen. Wonderful that they are honouring the brave soldiers of yester-year. If only the same could be said of today's soldiers and the federal governments feelings towards them.

retrospectively yours.


P.S. Why don't people comment? Since I wrote my last blog over 250 people have visited the site. I'm pretty sure most of them weren't me. I have a comment forum for a reason. FEEDBACK PEOPLE! No matter how inane. I just need proof that people are reading this stuff.


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