“In Paris, if you say ‘s’il te plait’, ‘bonjour’, ‘au revoir*’, it’s all good, you’re polite! You can curse however much you want in between and you don’t need to be nice either. This is surprising for us, Brazilians, we tend to get offended when people are not kind. To survive psychologically in Paris, one should not feel distressed when people are not friendly, it’s not personal, the person is there – the shop owner, the café waiter, the cashier and what not – they’re doing their job that’s it. They might not even be happy to be here, by the way.
I remember this event in the Parisian metro that really stuck with me: some tourists wanted to buy metro tickets at the counter and they were being yelled at by the salesperson because they hadn’t said hello!
On the other hand, you should know, that you can only say hello once within the same day! This is quite constraining because it’s not like in Portuguese where you have other expressions: we easily say ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good evening’. In French, these expressions also exist but I have the feeling that they are not used as often. I remember walking by a French friend once and saying hello. He replied ‘Really Lucas, we saw each other this morning, you don’t remember?’ I did, it’s just I didn’t know what else to say.”
* please, hello, goodbye
Place Paris, France
Lucas is Brazilian and has lived in France for two years and a half. He’s lived in Rio for 10 years.
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