Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nouveau Riche

Do you ever overhear conversations that make you cringe or watch people you cannot help but feel ashamed for? Well, it has certainly happened to me several times and yesterday morning I witnessed a prime example. The scene: VIE airport, Duty Free Area in the old part. I was on my way to passport control near the D-gates and decided to check out the new LE collection (some seriously cool stuff, by the way!) in the new Longchamp store on the way. As I was talking to the nice shop assistant, a 40-ish guy (Austrian, judging from his accent) comes in with a lady in tow and declares without any preliminary niceties, ignoring the fact that the sales assistant was dealing with another customer, me, "We have 3 minutes to spare and need a big black bag!" To his (apparently foreign as he talked to her in a mild "Me Tarzan, you Jane" way) girlfriend: "Honey, pick anything you like". The shop assistant pointed him towards the black bags and suggested they take a look there, to which he replied "Listen, if you don't want to assist us here, we're going to spend our money elsewhere. It may cost up to 1000 Euros." The girlfriend, visibly embarrassed said something to the effect that she didn't think they'd find anything there, which he could clearly sympathise with, "I know, it's not Louis Vuitton, it's [reading the brand name]...Long...chaaaaamp". Having said that, they made their exits and the shop assistant and I exchanged a look with raised eyebrows. "I need a coffee", she said. 
A few minutes afterwards I found them walking at a normal pace (so much about "having 3 minutes") and they seemed to be still on the subject of bags. My guess is that she told him she disapproved of his behaviour in the store. He insisted "A lady needs to have a proper handbag". Well, don't get me wrong, this is a sentence I long for the man at my side to say and I certainly wouldn't object to a guy volunteering to buy me an expensive designer bag or two, but this specimen was so obnoxious and embarrassing I had to resist the urge to punch him. I certainly hope for the lady that he is a sex god or has some other qualities to make up for his attitude...


Blogger alcessa said...

As an Allemande Nouveau :-) I feel confident enough to take part in any conversations occurring in my vicinity if I feel chatty, but they often take the same turn: first, my partners-in-talk notice something's slightly )(?) wrong with my accent. Second, the conversation gets a bit akward while they are waiting for me to explain why my perfect vocabulary sounds so alien. Sometimes they ask and sometimes I just tell them when asked about my job ("translator for Slovene, which is my mother tongue"). After that, the conversation turns for worse, because suddenly, my ability to participate as an intelectual equal, brightly displayed :-) so far, does not seem to exist anymore, or shouldn't exist or whatever - I get the "dumb Yugoslav Gastarbeiter" treatment instead. That would worry and frustrate me, the problem is, I work mostly for German customers and have built up some wonderful business relations during the last decade, which is why I tend to forget I am supposed to be different and just chat on :-)
And that is why I get this horrible Fremdschäming whenever a situation like described above occurs (this year, at a VHS course in my hometown and in a holiday guesthouse where the culprits were Austrians :-) - not that this is in any way significant).

11/20/2014 04:03:00 PM  

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