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Gettin’ Angry

January 12, 2009

As anyone who lives in a foreign language environment knows, one of the hardest things to do is get angry and be able to hold your own in an argument.  It is also really difficult to be subtle in a foreign language.  Something is either said bluntly and rather tactlessly, because that is the only way you can express yourself, not said at all, or an attempt is made that leaves everyone scratching their heads because no one has understood anything.

For me being angry and being subtle go hand in hand.  While French people are know for yelling, arm waving and all forms of excitement, there are usually certain tell tale signs that this is to come before it actually happens.  And these signs are are usually pretty subtle, snide, side remarks that one has to have a fine tuned ear to pick up on.  Working in a French company, with all French colleagues has gotten me finely tuned into this art.  I can now tell when things are likely to escalate into a heated discussion, and I can also give off the subtle signal necessary to let my colleagues know that things are heading into the red zone.

Arguing is a whole different story though.  I get hot and flushed and I start to stutter, and my arguements get lost in my throat.  I end up not being able to say anything and fume in my corner because of my inability to get the words out.

Last Friday I finally got my revenge against this awful injustice of not being able to stand up for myself in a foreign language all while making a witty little comment with a smirk on my lips that made it clear what I was thinking.  I think that everyone in my office whipped their head around to see from who the comment had come.  “Not sweet Ashley,” they all must have thought.  All while I was thinking “I did it!  The Jerk finally knows to leave me alone!”

It was so sweet I could have skipped home.


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