Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Good Things About France No. 3: Service with a Smile

A while ago we took the car into a garage and asked them about a clicking noise that we could hear under the car. The mechanic took the car for a spin, raised it on the lift and took a wheel off to check the bearings, cleaned it and put it back together again. That should be okay now, he said. How much? We asked. No charge, he quickly said. When we drove off, we found he had indeed fixed the problem.

Then, last week, my wife broke the arm on her glasses. She took them in to the optician. He looked them over, then took them into his workshop and quickly fixed them. How much? She asked. No charge, he said.

This is a wonderful aspect of France. The idea that people will do work for a complete stranger, even a foreigner who doesn't speak French that well, completely gratis. It suggests a certain level of respect still existing between everyone in the community and an unwillingness to let monetary values take precedence over human decency. Bravo!

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