Salut! In my recent reader survey, a reader referred to WTF moments in the comments. I’ve always thought of WTF as “what the f*ck” but she lovingly called them Welcome To France moments. I love it and never heard that before! I googled “Welcome to France moments” to see if it’s a “thing” I was just not cool enough to know about and lo and behold the fab blogger David Lebovitz had a whole post on Welcome To France moments. What are they?
Those lovely WTF (Welcome to France) moments
So what are these “Welcome to France” moments? In David’s words, it’s “whenever something odd or stupefying happens, it’s now called a Welcome to France moment. Or a WTF moment.” Anyone who has lived in France for any length of time — and has left their house at least once — has experienced these. I’m sure of it!
(Quick note: Yes, of course these moments can happen anywhere on the planet. This is lighthearted and poking fun at the French. I’m sure I’ve personally been the subject of many WTF — the other WTF — moments on both sides of the Atlantic, so just have fun with this, OK? It’s not meant to offend!)
To be more specific, David explains what we’re talking about here:
Or when you’ve got a busted drainpipe and water’s gushing out, and the plumber finally shows up, but without any tools—”I am just here to look right now.”
Or when you’re at a café and they tell you they don’t have any mineral water…when there’s an army of bottles lined up behind the bar in plain view. You just tend to nod in agreement and accept these odd incongruities around here. It becomes très normale. (Diane’s note: This happened to us in Corsica but with wine. They were supposedly out of wine yet we saw a stocked fridge!)
Ha ha ha.
Here’s one WTF moment of my own I’ll share with you:
When I first arrived in France in 2009 for a short work contract teaching English, I had to open a bank account immediately. The process often takes time and to get paid, opening an account ASAP was of utmost importance. I went to a local bank, had a 45-minute meeting with one of the reps that included all kinds of photocopies and signatures and when she went to get final approval to open the account from her boss, I was denied.
Her reasoning? My French wasn’t perfect. Not that I didn’t have the right documents, or a job, nope. But my French.
I pleaded with her and explained all I was going to do was use the ATM and that I was jet lagged and my intermediate level of French back then would only get better as time went on. She wasn’t having any of it. I asked her if she denied all immigrants in the neighborhood whose first language wasn’t French? She walked away. Through tears, I left utterly defeated, sat down on the sidewalk and just cried feeling completely overwhelmed and helpless. Luckily Tom was with me because at that moment, I just wanted to disappear. Denying someone a bank account because they don’t speak the native language perfectly? WTF????
NOTE: If you need a bank account in France (or another country they operate in) for simple banking needs, I highly recommend N26. My card and account are FREE. Check them out here.
What about you? If you’re reading this and a WTF moment popped into your head, would you share it with us all in the comments? Maybe we’ll feel your pain, laugh with you or just scratch our heads. It’s all in good fun, so join in!
I’d love to hear yours below!