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Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

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colorado
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Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

WOW!!!! Traveled all over the world and have NEVER EXPERIENCED such a rude person, and that is saying a lot! We were having an absolutely fantastic day. Every single other person we have met has been wonderful. We entered a linen/materials store today at the flea market. I said Bon Jour, and the shop keeper did not reply. My daughter found a tiny antique purse she was interested in and picked it up and brought it over to the man behind the counter. She asked nicely "how much is this" and he blew up! He screamed "What no greeting? no hello?" I stammered "well, many people here do not speak English' and he snarled "It's universal...you say hello....GET OUT" Can you believe that? GET OUT??? Every other exchange in 6 hours of shopping was civil and nice and easy. This guy needs to be taken down a peg or two. If we weren't so SHOCKED we would have said something equally nasty back to him. Instead we put the purse back in its place and slunk out of the store.

We were just mortified...he was absolutely furious. Anyone else have something like this happen? It really put a black cloud on an otherwise lovely day. I will say we were not horrible impressed with the flea market as a whole. If you are decorating a home and need French antiques, then yes, its a good place to go. We did find some gems, but I"m not sure it was worth dedicating a complete day to. Its a definite one time event for us.

PARIS
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1. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

Wouldn't worry about it.

W..kers eveywhere and quite a high proportion in the Saint Ouen flea market believe me.

His loss.

Paris, France
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2. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

Yes, I have seen this sort of incident before. Not just in France either. A Seinfeld episode even made this sort of behavior supposedly funny.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

Oof. I lost it (in my wordy, but gentle manner) with a shopkeeper here in Los Angeles yesterday. He got my point. Shopkeepers everywhere can be quite rude.

And I won't even get started about some of my experiences in Colorado (as a non-local and traveling, as we do, in a party of individuals who are not all Anglo-European), we have had some fascinating experiences in Colorado. But mostly, it's been good (my dad is originally from Colorado, spent the summers there growing up, been back many, many times - and my relatives who still live there agree that they've seen people treated the way we were treated on more than one occasion).

You need to know the Flea Market well to make it a good shopping place, I think. We do collect certain things and sometimes find them there. It's bewildering. I want to visit the building that Kerouac photographed that has the clothes in it, and I *think* I know how to get there - we shall see.

Sorry the shopkeeper blew a gasket. I was just saying yesterday that I bet Parsians are gritting their teeth and gearing up for the onslaught of tourists (and yes, I made that same mistake of not saying hello on my first trip - and got yelled at by a very handsome man who was working in a concierge-like position at Opéra Garnier; fortunately, that stimulated my French, and I remembered my manners; the instant I said "Je suis desolée, monsieur" he softened (but did not apologize).

To me (I'm a teacher, in a typical year I'll deal with 500-700 students), it's like remembering to keep my patience year after year (35 years of this) while the students interrupt lecture to ask if I have a pencil or pen or come to my office to ask "Is this your office?" I know they're just trying to make contact, but I have to remember not to start grinding my teeth. It's particularly hard at particular times of the year, I expect it's the same for French people. It must be strange for them to have, suddenly, half the world turn non-French around them.

I hope I never forget my Bonjour, monsieur again (I'm already on to being ready to make some small talk in French if necessary), but if I do and I get yelled out, I probably will still apologize but I might say something about customer service and maybe bore the person (ha) with an explanation of culture differences. When stimulated, I can do this well enough in le français-pidgin.

It sucks that this was your daughter it happened to. For Americans, the tone used in an initial interaction with a shopkeeper is equivalent to saying "Bonjour, monsieur," it establishes politeness. So when a student is belligerent in tone (and sometimes they very much are - I've had students shout angrily about the smallest things, often involving some other student), that's the equivalent of not saying "Bonjour," I suppose. I can be very stern on those occasions.

And I got downright p.o.'ed at this store dude yesterday (a first in a long, long time; he happens to be from a different culture, but my cultural patience with him was exhausted and I responded as a member of his own culture might respond - worked beautifully to get what I wanted and I did complete my minor transaction at his store). Probably won't go back.

We spoke to one furniture dealer at Les Puces about this huge piece of furniture (he'd had it on sale, I believe he said, for more than 20 years) and asked him how often he makes a sale (his stuff was *very* expensive) and he said once or twice a week. He then showed us the three other nearby shops that he also kept, with the help of his wife. He knew right away we weren't likely to buy anything, but he was happy to answer our questions about various pieces and showed us all his 16th century pieces (all of them way out of our price range) as if we were buying customers.

Bellflower...
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4. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

Sunny2929, I was appalled when I read your post.

"For Americans, the tone used in an initial interaction with a shopkeeper is equivalent to saying "Bonjour, monsieur," it establishes politeness. So when a student is belligerent in tone (and sometimes they very much are - I've had students shout angrily about the smallest things, often involving some other student), that's the equivalent of not saying "Bonjour," I suppose. I can be very stern on those occasions."

LeBiscuit, there's no comparison in these two situations. In your case, as a teacher, there's some background involved. Beligerence from a student is not the equivalent to neglecting to say "Bonjour." Would you kick a student out of your class for not saying, "Good morning, Mrs. Dartmouth"?

I would like to know about any breach of etiquette, and Sunny2929, I'm not one of those blame the victim people. When my husband and I have entered small shops, sometimes the shop owner has greeted us first and sometimes I have said "bonjour" first. Usually, I'm the one making the purchase and I don't remember any additional "bonjour" exchanges at the payment counter. Since we are a couple, am I speaking for the both of us if my husband purchases an item? Should he say "bonjour" at the counter, even though greetings were already exchanged? Although Sunny had already said "bonjour," I'm assuming that the proper etiquette was for her daughter to say "bonjour" again?

I don't expect this will necessarily happen to us (getting kicked out of a store), but I do want the both of us to follow correct etiquette. Hence, the involved questions.

Thank you,

MrsJAS

Paris, France
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5. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

My last 'bonjour' mistake was about 10 years ago when I was showing an old friend from university around with her daughter -- I hadn't seen her in more than 20 years, so this is probably what distracted me, but it is no excuse. I was taken to task by the cemetery attendant at the entrance of Père Lachaise without greeting him properly first. It was all the more humiliating because he was a young man. When the people are older, you can always toss it off as their being an "old grouch" -- but even then, I am the one who was at fault.

Edited: 18 May 2013, 18:25
Canada
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6. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

I do appreciate the politeness part of the French culture, we could use a little more of it here in North America. But in some cases, like the one described by the OP, it almost seems like "some" are just waiting for us "tourists" to slip up so they can jump on us. What happened to giving a little grace? Especially with a child. My own incident occurred on the FWI island of St. Barths. My wife & I were having trouble (in the dark) locating the little restaurant on a side street in Gustavia. A young man was walking by, so I said to him, "Excuse me sir, could you tell me where Restaurant XXX is located?" He literally jumped at me, stating, "What? You don't have time for a proper greeting? You just say, where is this, where is that?"

I apologized for my brutish insensitivity, but really????? Was I so far off base? I think there is a deep resentment of "Americans", especially "tourists" by many French ... and this resentment is just bubbling below the surface, waiting for an opportunity to erupt. Certainly not the majority, but it does seem to be a trend. As a said in another thread, generally you get what you give and I believe this is as true with the French as anyone. But sometimes, albeit rarely, this hang-up on a "proper" greeting becomes a bit extreme, IMO.

Paris, France
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7. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

I have found that the French are very offended when one does not say Bonjour Monsieur or Bonjour Madame. It is extremely important to them. I have found this everywhere in France. I am sorry that he was so mean about it, but it is one of those cultural things. Try not to take it personally.

Saratoga Springs, NY
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8. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

there are grumps everywhere. We don't have much control over that. We can only control our reaction and how much we allow them to affect us.

Allonsee
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9. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

Given my choice, I'd prefer to be yelled at by a shopkeeper for my lack of politesse than what occurs here in Vancouver. I can't tell you how many people working cash registers won't even stop their personal cell phone call to tell you how much your purchase is after they've rung it up, let alone say "hello" or "thank you".

Paris, France
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10. Re: Rude shopkeeper Puces St. Ouen flea market

Drbergen, you are wrong to imagine that the poster was thrown out of the store because of being a tourist. This happens just as often -- nay, more often -- to locals since they outnumber the tourists by far and sometimes forget their manners as well -- or never learned them in the first place. It would be very naive to imagine that every person in France is raised with perfect manners and that 100% of them always say bonjour properly.