Ever just not connected with someone on so many levels it was astounding? It doesn't happen to me often. I can normally scrap up some witty rapport finding some connection with the random stranger even if it is a common love for chewing gum or a mutual annoyance for French administration. There's always something you just have to find it.
Except when you are face to face with Anastasia*.
It all started so innocently. Anastasia was working as a cloak room hostess for my event at one of the Croisette hotels. She was polite - so polite that she tipped her head forward while placing her hand over her heart (Pledge of Allegiance style!) when guests thanked her for their coat ticket. She was that gracious. She Madamed and Monsieured everyone and when I told her she could sit down and relax, she said that by principal she simply couldn't.
Once guests were seated and the bulk of our welcome wagon was done, Anastasia and I began the kind of chit chat one normally does with staff on an event. Of course the big question Where are you from? came up right away. I don't know why we went there, but we did. Anastasia thought I was Canadian or English, but not American. Once she learned that I was the stories of her adventures as an aupair for a Fremont family poured out of her. We franglaised our way through the conversation as she emphasized parts in my native tongue. Oh non les enfants, zat geeves me a ead-ache. a rheel ead-ache!
I asked how she got into hostessing and she told me all about her sales managing job where she covered French regions in their entirety- 500 people under her - 15000 kilometers a year on her little voiture. Her dog Minty* came with her on her missions and is still her petit bébé. But as luck would have it, all of that being amazing affected her health and she had to stop. So she started hostessing. It was almost as if she was saying, I'm not really a hostess, I'm a manager in hostess' clothing...and then the cutting tag line - and you are nothing but an event organizer. I got the message loud and clear and I bowed my head and put my hand over my heart in recognition of her choice to respect her health and a lower-grade CV.
Anastasia went on to tell me how she never smokes in front of clients; she reminded me of how she asked before using her cell phone; then she showed me her running shoes that she was going to use for a midnight run home after her shift. She followed it up by explaining that the hostess agency trusted her to choose her own professional uniform for the night. The cherry on top was when she told me that she never drinks soda and only eats healthy food. She couldn't wait to run home to Minty who, according to Anastasia, gives her energy.
I was at a loss. I hate dogs, I hate running, I hate smoking, I don't bow or ask to use my cell phone.
I tried again: how did you like the staff meal Anastasia - how about that dessert?!
Well, it was a little poisseux.
Poisseux?, I asked.
Oh, she chuckled, right, I must try to use words zat are a leetle more seemple in French.
Simple? Is that what she just said? simple?
I bowed my head so she wouldn't see me roll my eyes and wished a silent curse of doggy diarrhea on Minty.
*names have been changed to protect the non-sensical