It’s Not Even Noon Yet And I Have Already Lost All My Dignity. (Again.)

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Today, it was a slightly chilly morning and I decided to head up the hill to the little grocery store. I have an obsession with these little pre-packaged coffees, mainly because it’s the only time, besides paying exorbitant amounts for Starbucks, that I can have an iced coffee. But, the grocery store next to my apartment hardly ever has these coffees in stock, more likely than not because I buy them all in one swoop. What I’m trying to say here is that I end up going to Franprix every other day in hopes of, like an extinct animal, spotting one of my precious Caffè Lattes. (It’s Swiss! And delicious! I just Google searched it!)

So, I went today and, feeling optimistic, headed to the refrigerated aisle. And, as I rounded the corner, I saw, all lined up, fully-stocked, my glorious coffees! I covertly put eight into my basket, leaving two on the shelves, even though I didn’t want to, but thought it was dignified to do so. Oh, how I was so happy with my dignity. You just wait, guys. Spoiler Alert: I shoulda taken the last two, because my dignity does not stay in tact for very long.

I grab a few other things then head to cash out at the register. I pile my random purchases onto the belt and rush over to bag my own groceries. In France, generally the cashiers do not bag your groceries, so you’ll have to, all at once, unload your cart, pay, and bag your goods before the numerous people waiting in line kill you. Actually, that’s a lie, I really don’t know the patience level of the French. I’m guessing it has to be pretty high, since everything they do is painfully inefficient. But, I digress.

I start bagging my groceries frantically when, all of a sudden, one of the coffees slip from my hand and what ends up happening is that I chuck it so high and so far that I question whether or not my real job should have been professional softball player. This thing had some serious height to it and it lands with a splat, spilling all the contents onto the floor. I yell, “Pardon!!” as I look at the cashier, who has the most shocked expression on his face, as if in the history of Paris having grocery stores, he has never, ever, ever once seen a person spill even one thing ever, ever. He looks at me and I sort of shrug thinking, “Well, what the fuck do you want me to do now? I’M SORRY I’M SUCH A SORE ON THE BEAUTIFUL GRACE OF THE FRENCH.”

But, he just keeps looking at me like I’m the most hideous person in existence mixed with, “What do I do now? As you know, people never spill anything in France, so I’m unprepared for this moment.”

After he’s done looking at me with his disdain and confusion, I do a mopping motion once I’ve picked up the cup and lid and placed both in the trash. He leaves the four people in line and goes to find a mop, returns with one and then, instead of having one of his coworkers help him, starts mopping up the coffee while EVERYONE WAITS IN LINE, INCLUDING ME BECAUSE I HAVEN’T PAID YET.

I try to find an ally, so I look at the guy behind me in line and do my signature charming shrug of the shoulders that conveys universally the sentiment of, “Oh, how silly life is!” And, this man who is buying four bottles of wine at ten in the morning says something to me in French that I think roughly translates into, “Is this your first time in the world?” Which, I think is the equivalent to, “Were you fucking born yesterday you American idiot? I hate you, I just want to buy my wine and go daydrink in peace, goddamnit.”

So, no ally, the cashier is MIA mopping in a way that makes you think he’s never mopped a day in his life before and, here I am, with all my groceries bagged and all the French people in line staring at me like I’m wearing a dunce hat that has the word “DUMBASS” written on it.

At this point, I was tempted to mop the coffee up for him but, I was so mortified and had lost so much of my dignity (see? told you…) that I just grabbed my change and ran out of there like I was being chased by angry drunk Frenchmen.

Needless to say, I’m going to stay inside my apartment the rest of the day and try to recharge whatever is left of my dignity and use whatever excess energy there is to plot for the destruction of all people who are total dicks.


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33 people added their two cents. Add yours.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara August 24, 2011 at 4:56 am

This definitely sounds like something I would do since I’m incredibly clumsy. Do the cashiers in French grocery stores sit down while they ring up your order? When I was in Portugal, they all sat in chairs because it’s illegal to stand for more than a few hours there.


2 Luda August 24, 2011 at 6:40 am

“In France, generally the cashiers do not bag your groceries, so you’ll have to, all at once, unload your cart, pay, and bag your goods before the numerous people waiting in line kill you. Actually, that’s a lie, I really don’t know the patience level of the French. I’m guessing it has to be pretty high, since everything they do is painfully inefficient. But, I digress.”

This is one of the funniest collection of words I’ve ever come across in my life.


3 Keely August 24, 2011 at 8:27 am

Thank you for making me snort coffee through my nose on an otherwise awfully grumpy morning!

I lived in England for three years and bagging is the same way. I feel your pain.


4 Clare August 24, 2011 at 8:38 am

This made me laugh at work. Thanks for the smile.


5 KYLECOOPER August 24, 2011 at 8:40 am

“Is this your first time in the World?” is my new go-to insult.


6 Jamie Varon August 24, 2011 at 8:45 am

Use it wisely, because it stings, man.


7 Meghan August 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Kyle, I live in Dallas so I hope you don’t live in Dallas because I am using it, too. And, if you do live in Dallas, you can have it and let’s be friends!!


8 Gregory August 24, 2011 at 10:04 am

DUMBASS? don’t they have a fabulous french word for this? Maybe EEEM-BAH-SEEAL? Love the description and story, put a smile on my tea-drinking face. “)


9 E August 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

Im laughing, but sadly.. of course you could have no one with you that would have at least subsided the humiliating blow! Mark another one for the Americans :)


10 Lacey Bean August 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm

The fact that you’ve started blogging again makes my life.


11 theresa August 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Me TOO!!!!!


12 nova August 29, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Me three!

13 theresa August 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm

OMG OMG!!!!! This is so hilarious!!! I don’t have another word to describe this blog and your life!!! The third paragraph sent me to the floor laughing hysterically!! Then I had to go to the bathroom, my new assistant Jessica looked at me like I was crazy, I turned and tried to explain to her but I had to continue reading the rest of the blog……again laughing laughing laughing…..Only you Jamie, would get your self in this kind of mess!!!!! DAMN COFFEE!! and French-high-ego-wine drinking-grocery-clerk-cashiers!!! lolololol!!
+ I love the guy behind you waiting in line to buy his wine!!!!! Hysterical!!!


14 Eve August 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

If only life had a button that would open up a space/time thingy in which the situation never happened, you were never there, nobody saw nothing.
PS – I’m glad to see you blogging again, too!


15 Steven August 24, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Jamie, you really have a such a descriptive way of sharing your adventures, no wonder
I hear Theresa laughing out loud every night. Now I too am laughing out loud,
Did you go back and get the last two coffee’s? Why not at that point and maybe shock
the cashier; “bag your purchases before you get to check out and just look at him with
a smile.” lolololol


16 The Napkin Dad August 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

In America it would have been in Wal-Mart at 2am in your pajamas which would have fallen down as you attempted to catch/throw your coffee. And someone would have taken a picture and posted it on ‘people of wal-mart’ in .0845 seconds. Consider yourself lucky to be in France!


17 Ben August 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I am DYING over here. Mandatory reading for anyone who has ever lived in Europe.


18 Mermanda August 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Ben sent me… And I am forever indebted to him for that. You are a great story-teller! Hilarious. I am subscribing fo sho. P.S. Hi! I am a former avid blogger. Maybe one day I will make a comeback like you. But first I need to get over this bout of “boringness” that I am currently being treated for.


19 emmysuh August 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm


Although, I would love to start my day drinking at ten…lovely.

When I was in Germany, I was terrified in the store of doing something like this, or just general faux pas of touching something I shouldn’t. Germany is slightly nicer to Americans than Frenchies but there are still people who just hate other people.


20 Stephanie August 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

This is exactly the kind of shit that would happen to me. Once in 9th grade science class, some one turned the sink to the eye rinse option so when I went to wash my hands, water sprayed up into my face instead. I jumped back in shock and water was going everywhere and of course I was too stupid to think “okay this would be a good time to turn the sink off” BEFORE jumping back. Anyway, I turned the water off and my teacher had me go into the closet to get a mop. While I was in the closet, hating my life and looking for the mop, I guess my teacher had told the class that if everyone was quiet for 3 minutes we could all leave early. I get back into the classroom and begin mopping and say some smart ass remark — which in turn makes it so we can’t leave early and everyone hated me and I had to mop the floor. WOMP WOMP.


21 Page August 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Don’t worry, I threw up on a (very famous) public landmark in Paris, and they gave me the same look. SERIOUSLY SECURITY GUARD, NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER THROWN UP ON THE EIFFEL TOWER BEFORE? Apparently not. He glared at me, placed a dainty rag on the offensive area, and pooh-poohed me to the washroom to get the vomit off my face. So I feel your pain.


22 Mary September 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

You can easily make iced coffee at home…


23 Grant September 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Good story! And it adds justification for me to not drink coffee! This misadventure applies to my everyday life. Kudos for a well written piece!


24 Apocalypstick September 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Carrie fell in Dior. Let us never forget.


25 Paula @ thewilyweez September 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

Oh that’s awful! I hate when I do something embarassing and no one will come to my aid like I’m a leper or something!


26 Kyle September 24, 2011 at 11:14 am

“Is this your first time in the World?” I must use this soon.


27 RebeccaLK September 25, 2011 at 12:17 am

Thanks to Oh Noa for having a link to this blog :-)
Although I am half french I am what I refer to as hillbilly french! My french bloodline is less than romantic and classy…lol
Being a Starbucks addict myself I would go to any length to get my fix. If I were you I’d be licking the floor clean…since good coffee is so hard to come by. lmao
I witness a Dr. Jekyl and Hyde effect when I am forced to go without coffee for a single day. I try to regurgitate a coffee bean from the day before.
I know I got issues. Oh to hell with the stuck up people…dirty looks don’t pay for my bad habits!


28 mike November 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm

impulsively i might have dropped the other 9 but like another, i would have been licking-up my ‘fix’.


29 Jena December 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm

This definitely sounds like something I would do too xD I have been known for my various “danger prone” accidents. So I know you’re not the only one who’s lost your dignity, I’ve spilled a whole container of hot tea on myself in front of like… 30 people. That was not only embarrassing but painful!

Anyways, I just wanted to stop by and say, that I completely adore your blog. It’s designed so amazingly, and I love the way you write your blogs. It’s just utterly delicious! :)


30 Courtney June 17, 2012 at 7:43 am

Wow. this is f*#@ing hilarious. I live in Korea, and bagging is also the same here. Except they’re wicked efficient on cleanup thought. So much so, that they clean all the time…even when it’s grocery rush hour, a time when it’s no longer the “grocery store” but the Kill Floor. Anyway. props homey.


31 sandy September 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Great article, very funny.


32 Colleen Joyce Pontes March 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

This was so awesome – it just made me loooonnng for being in France again…let’s face it – being a dumbass in France is always better than being a wicked smart person in America! :-)
Oh – & I’m an iced coffee freak as well!


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