I am still struggling with the concept of lines in France...or, more appropriately, the lack thereof. I think I learned how lines worked in kindergarten. One person got to be the "line leader" - this usually involved wearing a paper crown - and everyone in the class followed after them. It is not a hard concept.
Last week, during one of our 30 minute class breaks - everyone needs time for "une smoke" - I ran over to grab a much needed cup of "cafe au lait." Apparently, everyone else in school had also decided to grab a snack as I found myself further back in line than ever before. But no matter, there is no such thing as being late to class here in France. After waiting in line for a few minutes a group of students arrived and hopped into line with the people directly in front of me. Now, if perhaps you have gotten the only professor here who cares about timeliness, and you desperately need a cup of coffee I am more than happy to let you step in, but when you act as if I'm too dumb to notice that you just appeared out of nowhere it simply insults my intelligence. Wanting to avoid a fast-paced French altercation, I just stared at the people in front of me and hoped that they would get the message. This did not work. Eventually, one of the guys in front of me turned back and snootily said to us in French, "that is just how things are done here in Fr-ah-nce." Tired of being the lone rule follower I walked past, joined a friend in front of him, turned around and in my most perfect French said, "well when in France..."
I felt proud that I was finally learning parisian, until I realized that while I stood there feeling guilty - this is what happens to us rule followers - they simply couldn't have cared less. Perhaps I'm going to start walking around with a paper crown.