Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Merd-UH!

Jube was born in Mende, a "lost village" in the middle of nowhere. It also happens to be situated in the South of France. His family and he speak French with a heavy Southern accent, so I picked it up, too. One of the peculiarities of the accent is that the "e"s on the end of words are pronounced. This is especially true when they are upset.

This evening I heard a loud "Merd-UH! Bordel!" from the kitchen.

I have learned not to respond to these outbursts because they're never anything really serious, like I think they are from their volume. Probably the trash bag leaked a little bit or I forgot to soak a pan before Jube had to wash it.

Today I had my own "merd-UH" moment. I was driving to work, which includes driving around a traffic circle. I never learned how to deal with traffic circles back in the US, because we don't really have any. I just copy other French people, which involves going whenever you think the next person won't hit you. Well, today there happened to be two moto-police standing in the traffic circle. I pulled out, and they immediately waved me over. "Merd-UH!" I thought. He asked for my license and registration. I handed him the papers for the car, my American license and my passport. (Yes, this is legal, as long as I exchange my license within a year. Unfortunately I haven't been able to change it yet because I don't have my permanent residency card. But I'm still allowed!) He stared at the passport and license for about 30 seconds. "Mademoiselle, are you American?" he asked me.

Ummmm, WHAT? If I were French, why would I hand you an American passport and an American license and speak French with an accent? Although it's true that I hadn't said anything except "merd-UH," and that only to myself before I rolled down the window...

Anyway, the result was a ticket for
90€!! It's only my second ticket ever, and the first one was in the US. How annoying.

As I drove away, I looked in the rearview mirror. The police had already pulled over two more cars! The only thing I can think of is that driving on traffic circles AT ALL is illegal in France. You just have to hope that the police already have their victims when you drive by.

12 comments:

Doc said...

Yea, and don't run any yellow lights either! I got a ticket for that. What, I'm supposed to slam on the brakes and take three cars up the rear end?

Samantha said...

What was your ticket for? I don't really know how to take them either, but I usually try to go in the left-hand lane if I'm not exiting at the first or second sortie. And I always cross my fingers every time I drive that I won't get pulled over here!

And you're lucky you can exchange, I can't, which means I'll have to take the French test sometime soon, probably in the spring. :-(

cara said...

sometimes i see the police pull over people for no reason at all...just to "check their papers". so far as a blonde white girl i don't think i fit into their profile, but i hate it that they can just pull you over even if you aren't doing anything wrong.
can you go to court or something and get the ticket reduced like you can in the states?

Gem said...

Apparently I did not "ceder la priorite" in the rondpoint. I use that rondpoint every single day (twice!) and I only did what I do every day and have seen other French people do. It's seriously a big ticket trap, because they were pulling everyone over. I already paid the ticket, because if you don't pay it within 3 days the price goes up to twice the original fine!! But at least it wasn't an accident!

Samantha said...

Is it because because you should've waited to pull out? Or you didn't make a complete stop? How much was the ticket for?

It's true, I often see police at roundabouts pulling people over, but I always thought they were doing breathalyzer tests, as it mostly happens at night...

Gem said...

I was supposed to wait for him to go by. However, I think it's a very subjective ticket, because you might think you have enough space but the policeman doesn't. And that's why they were pulling everyone over, because (as you have probably noticed) in France you have to grab your opening when you see it.

Anonymous said...

Man! 90? That's /insane/. (Also annoying is that I can't make the euro sign on my computer. At least, not easily. Only the USA exists!).

We have several traffic circles in Bloomington, and I was dumbfounded when I saw them. They're all of the small, single-laned sort, though, and people are really kind of dangerous on them when they need to do something like turn left.

Samantha said...

I'm totally paranoid when I drive now, I've thought about this post every time I've gone through a roundabout since Wednesday!!!

PS. I think a French police officer could find a reason to give you a ticket no matter what you do...Fab just told me today they can give you one if you don't have a box of replacement light bulbs in your car (in case a light ever burns out while you're driving)!

lapetitecourt said...

Wow, I've never been pulled over but it still freaks me out. I've been here for almost 3 years now and I'm supposed to take the test since they won't exchange my license..merde..but I don't have that kind of money.

Antipodeesse said...

Girls, be careful on French roundabouts, because there are two kinds! The more common ones, with markings mean that you have to give way to those already on the roundabout. The rarer kind without markings mean that those cars already on the roundabout have to give way to anything coming from the right, just like in normal traffic situations...

Gem said...

Obviously mine wasn't that kind :) Otherwise they would have given the other guy a ticket. I've been really careful since, though!

Danielle said...

Haha, I can totally relate to the traffic circle comments!

I happened upon your blog while searching for info on carnet de correspondance for my students and I so enjoyed reading it! I would love the recipe for the tartiflette! It sounds lovely!

Thanks for the good laugh, especially grippe à bière! I will share that with my French speaking relatives!

Danielle