A Short Stop in Paris: Part 2 of 4

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I was remarkably calm. Probably because I knew the insurance would fix the wagon and my van had no damage. The only thing I dreaded were the hours of reporting and dealing with a likely enraged driver.

“What are they saying?” I asked Desiree.

“I don’t know.” She went over, spoke some in French and came back.

“Are they pissed?” I asked.


“I think so. He wants to know if you have papers.”

Gathering my documents, I went and met the man. He was pleasant and smiling, not at all seeming mad. The driver spoke no English and his friend only a few words. Desiree translated my English into French and their French into German by instinct before correcting with English. I showed him the papers I had. Upon unfolding my light green insurance document the man seemed relieved and became even more pleasant. Leaving him with the comforting piece of paper, I moved my van up a bit to allow a blocked car access to the street. I then took their parking spot, turned off my flashing lights and blended in with the other motionless vehicles.

Stepping back outside, I noticed the driver was missing. His friend, pacing in aimless circles on his cell phone, was obviously in some sort of business call.

“Where did he go?”

“I don’t know” said Desiree looking around.

While picking my insurance up off the hood of his car, I looked around some more past the modest traffic floating by and amongst people eating and chatting. He was nowhere to be found.

Desiree and I talked about whose fault it might be, but neither I nor the other driver seemed to care very much about it. We talked about how calm the two were and I joked that it would be funny if we ended up joining them for a drink at the restaurant we were all standing awkwardly in front of.

Two older women, clad in an artsy fashion one might expect to see at a high-class, modern art gallery opening, approached a black mini-cooper which was blocked in by the blue wagon. Realizing their predicament, they began speaking to Desiree and me in French, as we were the only ones standing in front of the blinking car. We pointed to the man with the cell phone, who dipped the receiver a bit, raised both shoulders and his free hand and shook his head while giving a somehow sufficient comment. The two ladies resorted to repeatedly checking their watches, raising their skinny arms and shiny bracelets over their head and circling around their little black car, which with their long legs and high heels gave them an odd stalk-like appearance.

Finally one of them had waited long enough. We watched her, while yapping to her self for motivation, go up to the broken wagon and lean in the open passenger window. The man, still conversing diligently behind the car, hadn’t noticed her yet. She appeared to be yanking on the parking break. The driver must have taken the keys, I thought. That’s what the man on the cell phone had probably said to her. Now she was trying to roll the car out of the way by herself. Realizing that the heavy, leaking wagon might be too much of a challenge to move on her own, she proceeded to wave us over, pleading for help in dialect. Wide-eyed as if watching some tragedy in slow motion, yet smiling, we simply shrugged our shoulders in an international sign of helplessness.

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