Stationnement interdit = No parking (c) Kristin Espinasse

(sta-syohn-ay) verb
1. to be parked; to park  2. to stay, to remain

Sound file :: Listen to French
Hear 8-year-old Jackie pronounce the word "stationner":


L'homme se découvre quand il se mesure avec l'obstacle.
Man discovers himself when he measures himself against the obstacle.

                             --Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


   by Kristi Espinasse

A two-lane road runs through the center of our town. On either side of Boulevard Gambetta, the local shops line up, their windows cluttered with saucissons,* fleurs,* baguettes, chocolate and leeks; the optical shop, the realtor, the insurance office, the bank and the kiné* crowd together on one side of the street; the florist, the drycleaner and the électroménager* on the other. Three bars compete for clients as do two cafés and four panhandlers. But the real competition in our village is for parking...

Driving home the other day along the two lane boulevard, I encountered a road block when the truck ahead of me came to an abrupt halt at which point lights began to flash from the rear of the vehicle. The driver got out and, without a care sur terre,* crossed over the opposite lane to the guichet automatique* just outside the bank. His back to the chaos left in his wake, the driver went about
his business. It was as if, with the slam of the door and turn of the lock, traffic as the world knows it became a non-entity in one Frenchman's mind; so much for us on-tee-tays* with places to go and people to see.

Ma fwah!* I thought to myself, putting on the turn signal and checking my rétroviseur.* I navigated around the obstacle but the passage was slight as another car, formerly oncoming, had the same park-n-run epiphany.

Ma fwah.

*References: le saucisson (m) = sausage; une fleur (f) = flower; kiné (kinésithérapeute (nmf) = physical therapist; électroménager = household appliance (shop); sur terre = on earth; le guichet automatique (m) = automatic teller machine; on-tee-tay (pronunciation for entité (f) = entity); ma fwah (pronunciation for ma foi = "je ne comprends pas" = "I don't understand (certain people's behavior)"; 'ma foi' can also mean "that's the way it is" or "go figure"; le rétroviseur (m) = rearview mirror

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