Share the joy

This is the 9th post in a summer series on what travel has to teach us about life.

A food market in the middle of Paris.

I am doing my best to communicate to a deadpan grocer that I want

some lettuce.

“Je voudrais…lettuce,” I say. I don’t know the French word for lettuce.

No response.

I try again. “Lettuce?”

More deadpan.

He says something in French to me, which I don’t understand, so I

simply reply, “Vert”. This apparently feeds his grumpiness because

he turns and walks to the back of his facility without a word.

Cool. I have encountered my first rude Parisian since arriving in this

magical city.

As my put-upon produce provider lingers at the back of his stand an

older British man appears beside me and engages me in some polite

conversation. It is a relief to speak my native language with someone

after feeling stupid for not knowing the French word for lettuce. I think

to myself, ha ha! The tables have turned, now the grocer doesn’t

understand what the British man and I are saying.

The produce seller returns with a beautiful head of green leafy lettuce

– showing it to me like I am mentally handicapped.

“Oui, merci,” I say. My “friend” behind the counter then begins

weighing out my other items on his electronic scale and writing down


The British man eyes the basket on the scale, turns to me and

whispers, “You think he is charging you for the weight of the basket

on the scale?”

“Oh no,” I reply. “The basket is zeroed out.”

The French grocer looks up from his weighing task. “Is there a

problem?” he asks.

Voila! Mon epicier speaks perfect English!


Question: Why did the grocer pretend he didn’t speak English?

Answer: Probably for the same reason I felt a surge of pride at

conversing with the British gentleman in a language I thought the

grocer did not understand. It satisfies the ego.

I know something that you don’t know. Ipso facto presto change-o, I

am superior. Of course, in order for me to be superior, the other

person must be inferior. What a fun game this is! Superior,

inferior…let me jockey into position to get to the front of this race.

Yea! I win! Or, boo, I lost.

What have I won or lost?


-Bruce King



Bruce King is a doctor of chiropractic in Houston, TX, with an eclectic background. Both a critically acclaimed New York stage actor and singer/songwriter in the genre of spiritual folk/rock, he has also used his creativity as a self-help book author, article writer, voice over artist, screenwriter, and director/producer. His current project is as a founding partner in Reformation Films, a new production company making movies that help people think outside the box of ordinary, limited reality.  You can visit him at www.ReformationFilms.com.

Share the joy