There is Justice in the World

I often criticize the Italians for being rude and downright obnoxious, primarily to tourists, on whom, ironically, they rely for their livelihood. When I mention this to other Americans, they often tell me that while this is true, the French are much worse, many of them having recently been in France.


Today while having lunch at a café in Campo Santa Margherita, I observed the Italian waitress be unbelievably rude to some French tourists. The café is called the Orange Café, and can be identified by the orange chairs outside. One of the waitresses there is particularly unfriendly, and should thank God she does not rely on tips. She is so unfriendly that I usually will not go there if I see her. Her manner is unpleasant and rude, and she is clearly quite unhappy in her chosen profession. I don’t know her name, and don’t care to know it.


Today, being Sunday, our usual haunt, Imagina Café, where the waiters are very pleasant and helpful, was closed. We therefore chose the Orange Café because they have some decent light fare for lunch. They were obviously having some sort of kitchen issue, as it was taking a coon’s age to get any food. Next to us was a table of Frenchmen who apparently had ordered some food before we got there. There was another table of French on the other side of us who ordered at the same time we did.


After a reasonable length of time had passed with no sign of the food, one of the French from the first group signaled the waitress herein above mentioned, and asked about the order. The waitress, after ignoring the woman for an appropriately rude length of time, told her that this was a bar, not a restaurant.


Ah, well, even I, who had eaten there dozens of times in the past three years, had been fooled. I was fooled by the fact that they served complete meals, by the fact that there was a fairly extensive menu, and by the fact that the menu said it was restaurant. I was offended, although the remark was not directed to me, and although the victims were French.


Finally their food came, and then my food came. I ate, finished, and paid, all before the other French people got their food. I felt bad for all of them. But not for long. I shortly saw the humor in it, and had to laugh out loud, even while sitting at the table between the two groups of French.


Most tourists will tell you that, when in France, they are treated like something to be scraped off the bottom of ones shoe. The French, when in Venice, are a pain in the ass. They sit on bridges (don’t do that, it is horribly obnoxious), and I have had French people ask me for directions to a place I knew, as it is about a two minute walk from my house, but they refused to believe my directions, and went off in the wrong direction. Okay, fine, I could give a rat’s ass. But the rudeness and obnoxiousness of it go beyond the pale. So, when these people at the Orange Café were treated like shit, I was happy to see them get some of their own medicine. And I’m not even sure they understood how rude the waitress was–she made her comment in English, and as anyone who has been to France knows, they don’t speak English. It only goes to show that if you live long enough, you will see justice done.


As an aside, I have to add that one should not generalize about a people. I gave a photography tour to some French people the other day, and they were delightful. In my experience, though, they were the exception.


This entry was published on April 4, 2011 at 12:04 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “There is Justice in the World

  1. As someone who lived in France (Paris) for five years, I can tell you that generally the French do not travel well. Since many of them do not speak what they consider other languages well, they tend to be rather abrupt. But that being said, during my five years in France, I found nothing but friendly contacts. Perhaps it was because I strived to speak their language (even when I was speaking it badly, I was polite and begged pardon for speaking badly — that must have endeared me to them). I very rarely (during that time) encountered a rude French person while during the same time on two visits to England, I encountered rude people twice and I spoke their language. I think that what it all gets down to is that we have to be open to experiences when we travel in other countries and not expect the people to behave in the same way that the "people back home" would behave. I will admit, however, to encountering a rude French person after I moved away from France and that was a waiter in a cafe in the 5th arrondissement. I just credited that one to his being a rather lower class Frenchman who was probably jealous that I could afford a trip to Paris and all he could afford was a Stay-cation".

  2. All of us have at one time been the brunt of a bad server, and having a bad day been a bad patron! I apologize to the world, and hope that I don't generalize that all "….." are bad, rude, grumpy etc. but that is not why I write, I am curious about the "sitting on the bridges" I am planning a trip to Venice, and learning proper ediquette would be important, so I too am not considered a rude visitor! please tell me more – sitting on the steps of the bridges? or sitting on the ledge of the bridge, or both, thanks for your help

  3. Here's what I would say are the rules with respect to stopping on bridges in Venice:1. Don't ever sit on the steps of a bridge. It's like stopping your car in the middle of the road.2. If you stop to take pictures on a bridge, move over to the side.3. Watch for elderly people needing to use the railing.4. If you are taking pictures of your companion on a bridge, don't take up the whole bridge. It's not necessary. It will be a better picture if you get close to your subject and leave half the bridge for people to cross.5. If you insist on blocking the whole bridge to take a picture, take the damn picture. Don't spend an hour trying to frame it. I usually give tourists about five seconds, then I go. Bottom line is, don't block bridges.

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