Well, here we go!
Ich freue mich so sehr.
Ich habe aber doch ein bisschen Angst.
Ich gehe trotzdem, und vielleicht weil ich diesen Angst habe.
I guess I’m still reasonably tired right now – German was all I had to express myself right there…
It has been fun visiting Montréal these past hours.
It seems like a lovely place – not by the sights so much as by the lifestyle and the people I have crossed and noticed.
I’ve used almost no English while here, had not even considered that it was French-speaking Canada – mostly because my friend who lives here is from Houston and is not someone I would consider “French-speaking”, so it didn’t even occur to me that it would be in this part of Canada, wherever he happened to live – and have loved every bit.
I always wonder when I go to the Mexican parts of our Houston culture – the tamale places, the panaderías, Fiesta – how the workers know which language to use, Spanish or English.
Do they judge people by their covers, as we were always told not to do?
And yet, I think they must.
And I think that is exactly what is great about a successful business like that (cross-cultural business, I mean): their being able to identify appropriately the customers’ culture, and then interact accordingly with the customers.
When I entered the plane yesterday, to go from Houston to Montréal on Air Canada, I knew they would be operating in bother French and in English.
I also considered briefly how any American airline likely would not do such a thing, and would use exclusively English, just about always, no matter the destination…
(When I interviewed with an airline once as a multilingual flight attendant, they made it sound terrible: the multilingual flight attendants are only ever one individual on any given plane, used to act as translator, and only when needed… it wasn’t about greeting people’s home cultures at all, or serving… it was just about putting out fires, essentially…)
And I wondered how the airline workers would judge.
At baggage check-in, the man greeted me easily and mid-conversation style in English, and I thought nothing of it.
But, at boarding time, as I was surrounded by passengers speaking a mix of French and English, I wondered how the flight attendants would handle it.
Sure enough, as we were stepping into the plane, the greeting post was using one language or the other, depending on how she judged each individual.
And she always had a happy passenger, so she was judging correctly.
My mother and I have discussed how I am rather European, at least for an American – I have many contrasting aspects of the two cultures that kind of go back and forth for me (I’ll give an example in a moment.).
As I took my own steps onto the plane, the greeter gave me the direct-look evaluation, considered, and then said, “Bonjour.”
I automatically respond in kind.
And I was elated.
I was taken for a French speaker, likely due to the European style of my outfit for the day – fitted half-collar long-sleeved black shirt, scarf, snug – but not tight – jeans, and fashionable winter boots.
People from Texas just don’t dress like that. 😛
Today, in contrast, I am very American in my dress: oversized purple long-sleeved t-shirt, same boots and jeans and scarf, and a beret… an odd combination of the two cultures.
But I don’t have to worry about what language people will use with me today – everyone uses both automatically at the airport.
‘Bonjour, Hello,’ they always say.
And the response determines the language used.
But they always say the French first…, and so I automatically am responding before they are finished with the English greeting…, and so they end up using French with me…, which I like very much.
I don’t often have such an opportunity, and I am grateful that I am embracing it.
Anywho… Montréal is nice, is really, really cold, and is beautiful with the snow everywhere (and gives a new experience for me with everyone acting like the snow is normal and nothing big deal [because it is normal here]).
*This first was the airport last night, when we had landed on a boatload of snow… snow was everywhere, including where the planes were driving…(!!!)
Including when I picked up my bags at baggage claim:
Now I am off to Japan.
See you on the other side (literally)!
P.S. This flight is to Japan, now, so they will be using all three languages, and I am delighted. 🙂