Parlez-Vous Français?

I live on the Ontario-Quebec border, so we have a fair few francophones kicking around. Most francophones speak some English, but some don’t. The ATM in our cafe happens to be owned by a francophone who speaks barely a word of English.

Today, he showed up, like he does once a month, to check the cash box and add money to the ATM if needed. I made up my mind that when he left, I would use my limited french to say goodbye. I feel like people usually appreciate it when you try to speak to them in their own language.

So when he finished, he started heading out the door as usual, and said, “Bye Bye!”

I responded, “Bonne journée!” (good day)

I guess my fake accent was too convincing, because he gave me a surprised look and then started speaking to me in French!! He said “Something something something.”

I gave him a deer in a headlights look, and said “mhmm?”

And he kept going! “Something something something. Il ne functionne pas.” and he gestured to the ATM.

I understood the last part, and thought, oh no! He just told me something doesn’t work, but I don’t know what that something is! So I desperately responded, “Oh really?” hoping he’d get the hint and try to respond in English.

Instead, he continued, “Something something something,” while I just stared at him, wide eyed and panicked. Then he concluded, “Mais tous est bon/bien. Au revoir!” (everything is fine. Goodbye!)

Heaving a huge sigh of relief, I waved goodbye. “Merci!” (thanks!)

I guess next time, I’ll try to sound more anglophone when I try to speak to someone in French, so they know I actually know nothing.