Unfortunately, I had a small back-related medical emergency yesterday and needed to spend one night at hospital. Today everything seems much better and inch’allah stays that way! However, this small excursion in the French medical world struck me as one of those moments when one has no choice but to fully accept the foreign mentality. One is at the mercy of another culture and feeling as helpless as this tiny African statue that reached my home in a suitcase many years ago.My degree of assimilation was tested in various ways but there were two particular moments that now make me laugh. They happened while I was leaving one hospital for a more specialized one.
Incident number 1. When I was inside the ambulance on a rescue stretcher, my husband noticed that the back door of the ambulance was not properly closed. And the driver was about to take off. He called the driver’s assistant and gently asked shouldn’t the door be locked. And you know what the assistant responded? “If your wife falls from the ambulance, then maybe it means that it is a good moment to change your wife.”
Incident number 2. The other hospital I was taken to is specialized in neurosurgery, but most of all it is famous for its psychiatric services. So, upon entering the hospital complex the assistant decided to joke again and asked my husband “are you sure they are going to let your wife out when day?”
My husband just responded ce n’est pas très drôle (it is not very funny). Even he did not have the courage to laugh.
If you are not French or have never lived here, these examples may sound cruel and mean. Many expats have hard time with this kind of humour and in my case, it is only my mood that decides whether I laugh or not. And in this case, I did not laugh. In fact, the second “joke” only made me feel like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Shutter Island…
So, if one day I disappear from the blog writing, you know where to find me. In the abyss of the Parisian psychiatric world. Munching butter croissants with Leonardo.
PS If you live abroad, when was the last time your patience was tested?