(asked by Alexandra H. currently in Paris)

I have lived in Paris for years and I still can’t get over the French (Parisians, specifically) and their “faux” manners that seem to arise from a sense of entitlement (is this the “I’m more important than you” syndrome at work?). To wit, two examples from the last 48 hours:

1. Today while getting on the bus at a rear door (on a long bus, where it’s acceptable) I arrived at the ticket validater about 3 seconds before an older woman who was obviously in a big hurry. She tried to quickly get her hand in before mine, but since I was there before her she had no chance. When she saw she couldn’t intimidate me out of her way she “let” me go first. I validated my ticket and sat down. She then said to me in a sarcastic obnoxious tone “you should say thank you when someone allows you to pass in front of them”. I told her I was in front of her and saw no reason to thank her for resisting shoving me aside. She then complained loudly to her friend that she had let me go in front of her and I didn’t even thank her and was I “mal elevee”. Rediculous! She tried to push her way ahead of me and was unsuccessful, so I should apologise??

2. When walking down the street with my child in a stroller, an older couple didn’t see me (it was dark) and the woman stumbled on the wheel of the stroller. They then yelled at me for not excusing myself! I mean, I’m walking along minding my own business and I’m supposed to excuse myself because someone doesn’t pay attention to where they’re walking???

Why should I apologise for other people’s blunders or bad behavior? What’s the logic?

Is this just me or are you really just venting more than actually asking a question?

Well, I’ll answer anyway.

Well, you mentioned the Parisian (not French, please, just Parisian) “faux” manners and sense of self-entitlement. Here they are at work. And on that matter, worse than the Parisian, we have the Parisian older lady.
Parisian older ladies (especially from the bourgeoisie, actually you don’t see that type of behavior as much from poorer older ladies) think they have every right in the world, that they are always in the right and that they will do you a favor if they don’t treat you like crap.
Those people are despicable and don’t really deserve the respect that a normal older lady usually deserves and you shouldn’t bother giving it to them, ever.
I could give you many examples why those persons are pure evil, but that would be just me venting too and it wouldn’t be very constructive (I’m still mad at myself for not putting that one back in her place a few days ago).

I don’t think there’s much to add about this situation.

Well, here is an interesting one. See, there’s another thing that’s extremely annoying (not as much as older bourgeois lady, but not that far from it) in Paris, it is people with strollers.
I don’t know what’s up with Parisians, but they’re worse than rabbits, they produce babies these days like they’ve never heard the word contraception.
And a very unfortunate consequence of that behavior is strollers.
Especially because most of those young parents are bobos, so they feel compelled to have these horrible strollers that look like SUVs and that should simply be illegal.
Why am I saying that?
Because Parisian sidewalks were just not designed for those vehicles (or any vehicle for that matter, yes, I’m alluding to you scooter drivers) and are a pain in every pedestrian’s ass, and believe me they don’t need this in a city like Paris were car drivers think it should be legal to run over pedestrians.

Of course, we could all get along if young Parisian parents -especially mothers- showed some respect and didn’t feel like they have all the rights in the world and that everybody should jump out of the sidewalk when they arrive with their snotty-nosed humans-in-training. I don’t know what makes them think that, I hesitate between either the fact that as they think that their baby is the most special person in the world, why can’t we see it and bow on their passage or the fact that they are totally oblivious that the special privileges pregnant women have during nine months instantly disappear at the very moment they spat out their baby into the real world.

Sadly, it rarely happens, they think they have every right over you because they push that pseudo-vehicle with a pseudo-human in it (or because they are mothers and you’re not… even if you are, if you’re not pushing a stroller, it doesn’t matter to their eyes).

That being said, in your case, it’s totally possible that the woman bumped into you, I don’t know. I’m just saying…

(but strollers have bumped into me several times -and I understand, those things are unmaneuverable- and every single time, the woman expected me to excuse myself because I had dared touch her little dictator’s vehicle or something along those lines, so you’ll understand my suspicions)

pixel Is this the "Im more important than you" syndrome at work?

5 Responses to “Is this the "I’m more important than you" syndrome at work?”

  1. It has been my experience in Paris, that most Parisians think they are the only people within the area. I cannot count on all my fingers, the number of times I’ve seen someone walk out of a building as though there was no one else on the same block, much less in front of their door. I’ve seen people walk down the middle of the sidewalk talking to each other and bumping into anyone who didn’t move out of their way; and expecting an apology. I don’t think it’s even necessary to discuss those who will push you out of their way at the bus stops, métro stations and in stores. So Alexandra, you say you’ve lived in Paris for years and you still have to ask these questions?

  2. what the hell is wrong with going out of one’s way to be polite.

    in both instances provided, I see no harm or foul with if Alexandra had offered a simple merci and pardon or desolee. whether or not it is expected.

    would it have killed her? sometimes extending politesse winds up with smiles on both sides.

    Barging through life, insisting upon one’s absolute rightness is silly and over time, erodes at the soul.
    christ, the world is turning crankier and more foul by the moment.

  3. It is very annoying to read all the time: "just remember that parisians and french people are different".

    First what do you call a parisian, since in this city, people who grew up and staied in Paris are quite a minority. And among these people, there are people from everywhere in the world, especially Africa and Asia.

    And even if you talk especially about white french people who grew up in Paris and will stay there forever, parisians are quite different than people from Carhaix, who are also quite different than people from Marseille.

    Every regions have their peculiarities so it is pointless to separate parisians from the rest of the country. It only shows some frustration one wonders where could it come from…

    Honestly when I discovered your blog, after having read the introduction I was waiting for stereotypes exposed in a funny, non serious way. But you seem too serious when you make generalisations about parisian people.

    I am not going to offend you by telling you how we usually call it when someone makes bad generalisations about a whole category of people.

  4. “little dictator’s vehicle” oh my! I used to have a very special one with huge wheels that seated two children side by side…for jogging. But then again, I lived in the rural US and used it on nature trails…not city side walks.

    I want to be the first (even if there have been others before me) to state that people are at least this rude in the US too. Self-entitlement knows no nationality ;)

    • Self-entitlement knows no nationality (that’s up to debate in some Asian countries, though), however in France, it’s seems that strollers are a problem mostly in Paris. I guess it’s a mix of:
      - Not enough space in Paris.
      - Parisians are world champions in self-entitlement.
      - For some reason, Parisians spawn like rabbits, I never saw a city with so many kids everywhere before.

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