When we first came to Paris, we spent seven weeks at a hotel in Courbevoie, not necessarily the most happening place but accommodating enough for a momma and her boy. A quick five-minute walk away was the local Monoprix (grocery store), where I learned the ins and outs of shopping for food in Paris…… and that not all French people are unfriendly.
One of the security guards helped me out so many times. Like the time I put the wrong bar code sticker on my tomatoes; he took me to the scale/bar code machine and helped me figure it out. Or the time HJ decided it would be fun to run away from me while standing in line; the security guard stopped him and kept him busy while I paid the bill. Whenever he saw us, a huge smile would come across his face and he’d squeeze HJ’s checks and ask him all sorts of things in French.
When we moved to our apartment, the closest Monorpix had no security guard with a friendly face, but offered up plenty of stone-faced French women with too much money and too many sour looks at my spirited child making car noises from his stroller.
About two weeks ago, I was having a rough time, feeling super homesick and so over the French “summer” we’ve been having. I packed HJ up into his stroller and headed to Monoprix. While I was grabbing some popcorn off the highest shelf in the snack area, I saw a big man dressed in black approaching me. When I finally got a good look at him, I immediately recognized our favorite security guard. He was so thrilled to see HJ and I, between his poor English and my poor French we figured out that he was transferred to our local store. There was a lot of smiling and cheek pinching, and when we left the store, I burst into tears. The Frenchman made me cry.
I’ve thought about this at least 5 times and what it truly comes down to is having someone recognize you and be genuinely happy to see you. I haven’t felt that way since moving here, except of course with Papa and HJ. I think when we finally get home for our USA vacation, there will be lots of tears… all good ones of course.