The Greeting (and the Fish and Chip Impasse)

St Savin Quincaillerie

Our local hardware shop in France. Notable because of the unsettling greeting of the prop. I will be looking down at some plumbing fitting and he suddenly appears, about a foot away, looking straight into my eyes. I say bonjour, and he responds, but does not move. We maintain eye contact. After an uncomfortable period of at least 30 seconds, we both look down, and I see his hand is out at waist level, waiting to be shaken. I shake it and he moves away, greeting accomplished. If I could remember this is his practice, all would be well. But instead, every time I come here (a lot) we go through this ritual where I wonder why the f*ck he is staring at me, while he presumably wonders why the f*ck I don’t shake his hand.

My father had a very similar experience in Dieppe about 50 years ago.  He was with my mother and they both felt they would like some fish and chips.  Looking at a nearby restaurant, they saw both fish and chips on the menu, so they went in to the cavernous and empty place and ordered.  The chips arrived, but not the fish.  Waiters kept coming out, looking at the chips and disappearing again. The chips went cold. After actually getting up to find a waiter, my father and he worked out the problem.   In France at that time, vegetables were served separately, before the main dish, whether fish or meat. While my father was waiting for the fish, they were waiting for him to finish the chips.  The process was never going to end.

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