My 10-year-old style-conscious daughter. More in today's story...
le secours (suh-koor) noun, masculine
help, aid, assistance, relief
* * *
Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même.
(He) will come to the aid of the suffering other, he who suffers himself.
--Faramarz (12th century Persian author)
In French music: "Avec le Temps" by Leo Ferre
Living out here in the vine boondocks, where high traffic means encountering one lazy tractor on my morning school run, I care less and less about presentation. Having all but worn my bathrobe while chauffeuring the kids into town, I wonder sometimes about risk-taking and ridicule.
Heading out the door to pick up the kids from school, I hesitate before the shoe pile. Forget it! I am not changing out of my slippers this time. The car is right outside the door. I only need to hop from doormat to car mat, risking but a trail of dust in between. As for hopping, that might be hard given the size of these slippers, which gets me thinking...
What IF I have an accident on the way to school? My daughter would kill me for getting caught in cotton "clogs". I look down at the un-dainty slippers, each one the size of a boat and with enough insulation to temper arctic waters.
Silly thought, that of getting caught. The odds of that happening! I shake my head and grab the car keys before stepping into car, lifting one giant slipper after the other, and pulling out of the driveway.
At a country crossroad where one, two, three, four paths meet--two of which are dirt roads--I slow down. With the help of peripheral vision I sense an object speeding forward to my right. I am amazed to encounter another car!
Right, priorité à droite!* I remind myself, giddy at the chance to give another driver the right-of-way. Only, given the hairpin turn awaiting the other driver, I have to put the car in reverse in order to make room.
As the car passes, and with a great beaming smile on my face, I am the picture of good manners as I offer to willingly retreat for the hurried French driver. Backing up, it is only when I feel myself sliding to the right, that I realize I've nearly ended up in a ditch!
Back to that unglamorous glitch. I look down to the floorboard, toward the foot pedals hidden behind those gigantic slippers. Time to act quickly before secours arrives! I push in the clutch, put it in first, and all but pole-vault the front end of my car into the ditch. Whereas the back end had only flirted
with the fall, it is in forgetting to straighten out the wheel that I dig my own descent.
I quickly put the car into reverse and listen as the engine replies in rip-roarious ridicule. A cloud of dust appears beyond the back window. Each clumsy kick of the clutch sends my slipper-boats sinking into the floorboard until a chilly arctic awareness sets in. I am not going anywhere. I will have to get out of the car and walk to town with those ridiculous "rafts" on my feet.
I look up, as one does for mercy, and notice something in the rearview mirror: two strangers slowly appearing amidst the dust cloud. One man is smoking a pipe, the other has car keys in his hand. I recognize The Right-of-Way driver and co-pilot. I see them jump into the ditch, walk over to the dangling front tire and lift it up--along with the car!
"Avancez,"* they say, holding the car in the palms of their hands.
The situation is surreal and there, behind the wheel, I feel uplifted by the strangers' secours.* I AM uplifted, as is my car! My eyes do a double-take and I see the pipe in one man's mouth, a smile on the other's. Sweat begins to appear on their collective brows.
"Vous voulez que j'avance?"* I say, afraid to run them both back into the ditch.
"Oui, Madame," they answer, politely, painfully, sweat now pouring down.
Right. This is no time to second guess. I tried that with the slippers and who knows if that played a part in this mess? Grinding the gearshift into first, I literally peel out of those men's palms.
Looking back I saw the men waving, unharmed. I had thought it was I the Good Samaritan. Slippers tucked safely now beneath a spared ego, I think again.
References: priorité à droite = priority (goes to the driver) to the right; avancez (avancer) = go forward, advance; le secours (m) = aid; Vous voulez que j'avance = Do you want me to advance?
In books: Learn French in Your Car
Michelin Tourist & Motoring Atlas France
Listen to these French words: Secours. Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même. Download secours.mp3 or Download secours.wav
French Words & Expressions:
Au secours! = Help!
appeler au secours = to call/cry for help
la caisse de secours = relief / charity fund
les fonds de secours = emergency fund
porter secours à quelqu'un = to give assistance to someone
sortie de secours = emergency exit
le secours moral, mutuel = moral / mutual support
les premiers secours = first aid
"FRENCH in 10 minutes a day" is a fun, dynamic and engaging way to begin your love affair with French.
Chansons Pour Noel: Songs for Christmas (in French)
French Country Diary 2008 (Calendar)
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety