Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Adventures, This Time with French Doctors and Neighbors Wearing Pants

It's been an interesting week. My French still royally sucks after break, I feel like I have lost all the progress I've made since I moved here. Or maybe I just realize my mistakes more often? Who knows.

I had some good medical news yesterday, I can stop the hellish treatment I've been getting! Yay! Basically it was a day-long treatment in Paris that was not fun and run by really miserable people. You know all those stereotypes about French people in general and bureaucrats in particular that you hear before you come to France? That is this group of nurses and the doctor in charge of the unit to a T. If I have a question, I get yelled at. If I want to share my thoughts and ideas about my health and the treatment, I get yelled at. Our biggest conflict has been scheduling this treatment. Of course I only have two days off of work a week, so naturally it is impossible to schedule (insert dripping sarcasm here). I can't miss work and I can't rearrange my schedule all the time to get horrible treatment. So again, I get yelled at. I can't even tell you how horrible these people have made me feel over the past three or four months. Apparently it is a crime here for patients to be concerned about their health, have something to contribute as regards their own health, or try to schedule appointments convenient to their own schedule. Naturally the doctor is God and we mere mortals must humbly follow their orders or be stricken down with a bolt of lightning! They obviously hate me. The doctor in charge of the unit will say bonjour to everyone else except for me, which is just plain rude. Anyway, yesterday things actually got quite funny. I went to see my specialist in Paris, who decided that I could stop the treatment. So he calls up Dr B*tch to tell her this. They exchange the normal French pleasantries, and then all he does is say my name, and I can hear the woman start screaming on the other end. Unfortunately I couldn't hear what she was saying, but I can imagine it wasn't nice. So my specialist keeps trying to interrupt her screaming, and she just keeps going! He finally gets to tell her that he's stopping treatment, and the other end falls silent. Then they exchange parting pleasantries and then it's over. At first I was shocked that she would behave that way to a colleague, and then I found it so funny that I could hardly contain my laughter. At least I never have to deal with her again.

Pantsless Neighbor and I went out to boire un verre on Thursday. He wore pants, it was like a miracle. We didn't actually speak in English at all, and when I said something about that when we got back to the lycée he says "that's okay, I can't actually understand the American accent anyway." Whaaaat? Anyway, we talked about French cultural stuff and the primaries. Naturally French cultural stuff always includes food, and he asked me what I thought about French food, so I told him that there's just too much pork for me. So somehow this gets him going about how his family lives in a rural area near Lyon on a farm and that every year they kill a giant pig and he helps. They use the whole thing, including making sausage from the pig's blood. I am quite clearly grossed out, so he starts telling me about all the other animal killings he's been at, like when he was five or six and his grandparents sat him down with a sandwich and a glass of wine to watch Grandpa kill and skin a rabbit. Or how when you kill a chicken the best part is drinking the blood right away while it's warm. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I am surprised I didn't throw up right at the table in the bar. I thin that's another French thing, they aren't as removed from the process of getting the food that we eat as Americans are so they aren't as squeamish about it. Anyway, even though he took some sick pleasure in grossing me out, he's a smart, nice guy, and I had a good time talking to him so I'm really hoping this friend thing is going to work out. He didn't suggest any concrete plans for getting together again other than that I should knock on his door if I'm ever going out, so apparently I'm going to have to take the lead here. Why is it that the French can't just be forward about making plans? For example, at one of my schools the maternelle (preschool) teacher spent a year in New Orleans teaching French and it's only been mentioned to me a few times by herself and others that she would like to practice English with me. So I have told her I'd be happy to a couple of times, to which her response is always "oh yeah, we'll exchange contact ino and go get a coffee sometime." But the contact info is never exchanged. It's like they can't take that final step, it's all discussion and no action.

The teachers at one of my schools are cracking down on me about keeping the kids in line during class. I don't know if other assistants have noticed this but all of my classes are crazy since the vacation. I think the reason the teachers are starting to mention it is that the substitute for the teacher who is out on paternity leave ratted me out to the teacher (since we usually divide the class, he doesn't know if I'm having trouble with them). They're being very nice about it and just giving me suggestions about how to threaten them in order to get good behavior, but you know, it's a little akwkard all the same. The kids seem to respond better to rewards than punishment, so I think I'm going to bring out the sticker bribery again and see if that will work as well as it did the last time.


Leah said...

Glad to hear you're all finished with your treatment. Those docs sound like super nasty people. As long as you can see the humor in it, you'll always be good to go! Can't say I'm not disappointed that your neighbor wore pantsthis time(haha), but it sounds like you'll be making yourself a french buddy which is good. You're right that you will have to take the initiative, but it'll all be worth it in the end! Good luck with the kiddies!!!

Le Tigre said...

Heya, I'm over here now
Used to be Destination Metz but I've changed blogs..