Une Vie Francaise

A month ago I lost my driver's license at a concert. (They actually didn't ID us that night, and to add insult to irony, it was a lousy show.)

I hate the MVA so much that I put off getting a new one, going so far as to carry my passport on a recent domestic flight. But last week I remembered there was an express office in Columbia that's open on Saturdays. So I rounded up the following forms of ID as per their website:

  • Passport (proof of identity)
  • Name Change Order (my passport only displays first and last) 
  • Credit Card Bill (proof of residency)
  • Pay Stub (proof of SSN, but mine only displays the last 4 digits) 
  • Recent Employment Contract (proof of full SSN)

So, guess how many she looked at?

Zero. She asked for my name, then my SSN, pulled up the file, took my picture and sent me on my way. But not before she asked about my middle name, which gave me such trouble at the MVA when I first changed it. I told her it was Armenian, then couldn't resist adding that her name meant "sing" in French. She was tickled by this and wanted to know how I had learned French. I told her high school plus practice, and she seemed genuinely interested and impressed that it was part of my daily life.

After that, I stopped for breakfast at La Madeleine, where the cafe is strong and the croissants can be found as God intended them (toasted almonds outside and marzipan within.) The staff is all Francophone, but diverse, and they are happy to chat with you a bit while you wait to enjoy your meal close to the fire.

Speaking French is occasionally useful, as at the concert (this one was amazing) when I calmly directed some confused patrons to their seats in their native language, or the time I watched a movie at a theater where the subtitles weren't working. It also brings me grief, mostly in the form of sarcastic comments from friends and family who wish they could understand me. But mostly it is a joy -- anytime I think, speak or dream in French, my life seems a little bit sweeter.