I’d befriended another American on the train ride to Nice, France, and we’d decided to split my hotel room. Aaron stood with the bags while I checked in. The owner, who spoke only French, took me to the room. All was going fine until I caught something he said that sounded like “no friends in the room.”
“Je ne peux pas avoir des amis ici?” I asked. [I can’t have any friends in here?]
“Non, non!” He said, getting all excited already. “Il n’y a pas de rendez-vous ici! Non, non, non!”
“Rendez-vous? Comme les rapports sexuelles?” I asked. [Like prostitution?] I thought maybe he just had my intentions wrong.
“Non, non! J’appelle le police! Non!” [He’s going to call the police?] Whoa, boy, relax a minute.
“C’est pas necessaire! C’est bien, je comprends!” [Ok, ok, I get it!] Let’s try a new approach… “Est-ce que vous avoir un autre chambre pour deux personne?” [Ok, then do you have a room for 2?]
“Non, non!” This guy was going to have a heart attack on me. It was just a question. “Tu as fait la reservation pour une!! Une personne!” He shoved his thumb in my face, indicating the number one, in case I didn’t understand the concept of making the reservation for one person.
“Oui, Monsieur, je sais! Mais est-ce que c’est possible pour le changer?” [Groan, yes, sir, I know that. I just want to know if it would be possible to change.]
“Nooon!!! Tu veux avoir des rapports sexuelles, tu y va!” Screaming now. [If I want to be a prostitute and have sex and rendez-vous, go somewhere else.] Right.
“Oh la la, non, c’est bien. D’accord.” [Oh my goodness, relax man. Ok.] But now he was taking my keys from me. This guy was whacked. I convinced him he didn’t need to take my keys and went to get my bags.
“Are there any vacancies here?” a young Korean guy asked me. I rolled my eyes at him.
“I don’t know,” I said. “But good luck talking to that guy.” I threw a look at the owner, who was sitting at the desk, looking scary.
“Is he difficult to talk to?” he asked. [You could say that.] “I didn’t have much luck. I’ve got a reservation here right now but we’re going to go look for a double somewhere else.”
“Good luck,” he said. “I’ve been searching all morning for a place to stay and everywhere I go is full.”
As we left, I heard the Korean guy speaking to the crazy owner. The poor guy spoke pretty good English but no French. [Oh, good luck yourself, my friend,] I thought as we headed out of there.
Once at the tourist office, we had a (nice, normal) lady making phone calls trying to find us affordable double rooms, when the Korean guy walks in.
“I found a double at a different hotel,” he said, and introduced himself as Jun. We told him we’d take the double and he could have our single, then went back to the hotel to make the change.
“Bonjour,” I said to the man. “D’accord…je voudrais echanger ma reservation - ” And the dude goes ballistic. He rockets out of his chair and starts stamping down the hallway, muttering the whole way.
“Ca marche pas, ca marche pas…” he says. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. He starts throwing my stuff out in the hallway and saying I am very nice but it’s no good and to go to a different hotel then and take my friend with me.
“Mais attendez, monsieur! Mon ami - ” I begin, telling him to wait and trying to tell him about Jun and how he’ll take this room. But he just keeps muttering and repeating the same things and handing me my things.
Jun goes to try to talk to the guy and then comes back and tells me, “He won’t give me the room because he says while we were gone someone else took the room.” This, of course, is ridiculous because as far as the guy knew, while we were gone, I had every intention of keeping the room.
“Let’s just get out of here,” I said.
“Come with us,” Aaron told Jun. “We’ll figure something out together, but yeah let’s get the hell out of here.”
“Hi,” he said to the friendly, English-speaking receptionist at the new hotel. “We have a friend who’s desperate for a room. Could he stay with us if we pay the extra money for his portion?”
“Sure,” the guy said. “I’ll just charge you for the extra tax. That’ll be 23 cents.”
Your first time abroad just has that special way of teaching you about life in ways that nothing else ever could.
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