I just talked to Franck on the phone. He told me that just a few minutes ago, leaving Le Relais du Vieux Beaune after lunch, he got into a bit of a (ahem) “lively discussion” with a local police officer concerning the small matter of “brushing” someone’s bumper when pulling out of his parking spot.
I laughed. “You’ve been spending too much time with _______ (tradesman working at our house in Villers at the moment, who shall remain anonymous for legal reasons). “
“I guess so,” Franck admitted.
“But at least you didn’t punch le policier,” I said.
“Or try to run over him,” Franck noted.
You see, this is what _______, who we’ve known for quite a while and who we also consider a friend, did to a policeman a few weeks ago, earning himself a three month suspended prison sentence.
Herein lies the paradox of tradesmen. I have found, through my many months spent on construction sights over the past three years found that french tradesmen are just about the most gallant guys you will ever come across. See for yourself – go into any of “their” restaurants like Jacky’s or the one I mentioned yesterday in Meuilley, and you will be greeted with a chorus of polite “Bonjour Madame’s.”
On the construction sites, they all stop work to shake my hand, and if their hands are dirty they offer me their wrists instead. The ones I know well give me the bises.
They are all without exception attentive to my opinions, and often surprise me with unexpected acts of thoughtfulness such as the Carpenter at La Vieille Vigne. This huge, rather hairy guy looks like the type you wouldn’t want to meet up with in an alley late at night, but looks can be deceiving.
Not only was he a true artist in his woodwork, but he also worked for free for a day installing our IKEA kitchen and making it look nice. At the end of the job he shyly presented me the beautiful old key that now serves as the key ring for the cottage. Somewhere along the line I had told him I loved old keys, and he remembered.
Our friend __________ with the chip on his shoulder in regards to law enforcement is the same type of guy; hot-blooded in certain situations, but if you are on his good side, a formidable alley.
Once when we were commiserating about the tyranny of the “Architect of French Monuments” in Beaune, _______, who had had a “difference of opinions” with him, growled “I’m just waiting to see him crossing the road one night – I tell you I won’t be hitting the brakes, that’s for sure.”
We all laughed, as this just about sums up the sentiments of anyone who has ever had anything to do with this offensive bureaucrat. If you don’t know what I mean, see this post of mine : http://grapejournal.blogspot.com/2007/06/plannign-permission-and-other-joys.html
Now in retrospect I realize that _______ was probably dead serious.
Maybe this is partly due to the fact that he is typically Burgundian – I read in an magazine article the other day of Burgundians described as “loyal, headstrong, and quick to take their gun down from the wall.”
A bit scary maybe, but just like tradesmen, there’s an upside to that too…