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Monday, November 29, 2004

Only in Paris

This is definitely an only in Paris story.

Last night while making our way in the light rain in a cab to dinner, we were stopped by police on Rue de Rivoli. Apparently the cabby was off his work clock, and really shouldn't have picked us up. After at least ten minutes --with the policemen scolding the cabby for working illegally, checking every bit of his paperwork, and the cabby pleading his case in vain-- it was decided that the passengers (read: my friend Matt and I) would have to get out and go fetch another taxi as this one was not in business of taking anyone anywhere that night.

One of the young policemen (in the rather handsome French police uniform) came over the my side of the cab (it was a van) and opened the sliding door to let me out to find another cab. Taking one look at me, in the little black dress and the Louboutins, he proclaimed out loud "ah this would not do". "I will find you a new taxi madame", he said, closing the door.

Half a minute later, yet another police came by, sliding the door ajar, and stuck his head in to talk to me. "Where are you heading to madame?", he asked. "We are going to be late for our dinner reservation", I replied quickly, adding "at the restaurant Pierre Gagnaire". A look of alarm took over his face, he lifted a finger up toward his face as if to say, just a minute, and closed the door.

He went back into the huddle outside with the other policemen and the cabby, and returned to speak to me after a minute or two. "It was decided, madame", he said in a serious tone, "that the taxi will take you to your destination, free of charge, since it was illegal for him to work at this hour". "Bon appétit madame, and please be sure to call the police station should he demand money from you", he said, shooting a menacing look toward the cabby. Just you try, it was loud and clear, just you try.

How can you not love the French? Only the French police would take one look at those dainty red soles and sympathetically pronounced them entirely unfit to face the harsh conditions outside. Only the French police would be mortified that their action might have caused me to miss my dinner reservation. And chez Pierre Gagnaire no less, quelle horreur!

As I said, how could you not love them?

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