Accomplishment of Expression

Come week two (five months back) and I had a problem with my phone. For whatever reason, I could send texts rather than receive. And so I had gone to Orange, the cell phone provider I had opted for, to seek a solution. But at the time, my bank of French vocabulary didn't encompass anything related to my phone. And so I resorted to English, sensing the frustration of the workers in their difficulty of understanding my English-- their perception that I was slightly more incompetent given I couldn't express myself in their language. It irritated me-- one of the first times experiencing the difficulties of not being able to fully express myself.

Five months forward: I bought myself a Longchamp bag about three weeks ago- a horror at the expense given it's just a nylon bag. But it doubles as a Mary Poppins case, fitting the overflow of my life into a seemingly small purse. After week one, the bag had developed holes at the bottom. And it took until week three to decide that I might as well have it fixed.

I headed into the Longchamp store during my lunch break-- only to be told they were sorry (but not actually) and could send the bag in for repairs. It would take a minimum of four weeks and with the store closed in August, the wait could prove longer.

Well, I leave in just over two weeks.

I could take the bag to New York instead, they suggested. Someone on site could sew closed the holes.

Their response frustrated me and for whatever reason I sensed their lack of will to help stemmed from the fact I was a foreigner.

But I decided to try again, heading to the Longchamp store in the 1st arrondissement. I knew what I wanted to say, delivering my explanation in French as I rattled on my disappointment of having saved the money for a bag only to find it broken after three weeks of wear.

And it worked-- they agreeing to let me to exchange the bag for a new one.

It's not the story itself that's all that important. It's just that I've come some way since February's stop at the Orange store.

I won't return home fluent. Nor will this horrid faux- Canadian accent dissipate from my French. But I will return home with the ability to express myself.

Which really is a long way from where I had initially begun.

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