Following a hunch from Paris to Miami + know these useful French words?: débrouillard, fonceuse, farfelu, embaucher, boulot, bagnole
Today's lesson: Be a smart cookie and follow your dreams! Learn the French, below, and read about a fashion student who "sows" an unusual seed, and is hired to mix designer drinks.
Today's Word: un débrouillard, une débrouillarde
: resourceful, clever, self-starter
: a smart cookie, self-reliant, street-smart
Following a hunch from Paris to Miami
You never know where a hunch will lead unless you follow it! Our daughter surprised me years ago when she mentioned bartender school. At the time we were in Paris, where Jackie was doing a 3-week internship with an haute couture designer. Her bartender remark seemed farfelu given she was studying fashion design, but she ended up following that hunch: she dropped out of design school and started working in la restauration, as a food runner.
At 18, she moved in with her boyfriend, who was sans bagnole so Jackie did the driving. On lonely nights in their shoebox apartment, she cooked, cleaned, and shared her dream of moving to the States. "You can come with me!" she enthused. But the two didn't share the same enthusiasm or motivation. “You’ll never do it,” he said (daring her? Or didn't he think she had it in her? "It" being drive? determination? Guts? The courage to leave the known for the unknown? Or zest? I like this last one, ZEST, and you'll soon find out why :-) Meantime, never underestimate a smart cookie! Il ne faut jamais sous-estimer une débrouillarde!)
Jean-Marc and I were not crazy about the situation but Jackie’s loyalty, both to her petit ami and her job, kept her stuck there...until one day her landlord phoned, saying he heard a commotion and shouting. Jackie denied this, but it was too late, Jean-Marc wasn’t taking any chances. He and Max showed up at the apartment and brought Jackie back home.
Our daughter no longer mentioned her dreams or the USA, but we kept encouraging her. “Aunt Heidi’s friend owns a Mexican restaurant…” Little by little Jackie’s dream revived and she got on the plane, September of 2018, headed to Denver. She lived that first month with Aunt Heidi, who helped with her resume so she could apply for a job at the Ritz in Vail.
Jackie loved her job as a cocktail waitress at the elegant Ritz Carlton. She watched the bartenders who showed her how various drinks were made. In turn, she shared a few French apéritifs (two favorites from the south: le Mauresque (pastis with orgeat syrup) and le Monaco (panache beer with grenadine syrup). Around midnight, she walked home in the dark, slipping and sliding along the snowy highway. She often called home (it was 8 am in France) during the midnight trek, reassuring us all was well… even if she lacked cold-weather gear. “I need to get some après ski boots!”
She got those boots and more! Before tourist season in Vail ended, Jackie received an employee award--a 5-star recognition from her manager at the Ritz for outstanding service.
Back in France for the summer, our Franco-American immediately found un boulot here in La Ciotat. We barely saw our daughter that summer, as she worked overtime or double shifts. When tourist season in France ended, Jackie debated her next move: school in France or go back to the States? After seeing an ad for a bartending school in Miami, she had an epiphany!
A True 'Zest' for Life
At 21 our would-be bartender was on her way to Florida, where she had no family or friends, not even a room to rent! The school placed her in a hostel, where she took a bottom bunk in a roomful of foreigners. Tucking her suitcase under the bed, Jackie organized herself in that little space, while going to bartender school. She celebrated her 22nd with strangers and began looking for permanent lodging. After 6 weeks living out of her suitcase, in two different hostels, she moved in with a French girl, and found work waitressing in a 5-star restaurant, at The W Hotel.
Another season ended and this time Jackie received a tip from her roommate about a bartender job opening at Baccarat, the historic French crystal company. Did you know they have a boutique bar? This, from their website:
We invite you to live the unique experience of sipping a coffee, tea or cappuccino; enjoy a bubbling coupe of champagne, a glass of wine, or discover our signature cocktails and taste our delicious food. All served in Baccarat, surrounded by Baccarat’s beautiful and colorful crystal.
The manager liked Jackie’s French look and hired her on the spot. During the challenging months ahead (the beginning of a pandemic!), Jackie continued to work as some employees were let go, including the manager. In addition to tending the bar, she was now in charge of opening and closing the shop, and various managerial tasks. The pressure and stress built up, but Jackie hung in there!
All this to tell you that last week on her one-year anniversary at the Baccarat boutique, Jackie was surprised with a luxurious gift and a letter of recognition from the CEO! We are so proud of our daughter who followed a hunch and landed a job in America for an historic French company—and is working in a beautiful boutique while doing something that combines her love for design and bartending.
From Fashion to another Passion
“I have never been happier,'' Jackie recently shared. Her gutsy decision to move to another country and a new city was timely. Had she stayed in France she would have been an out-of-work waitress (restaurants here are still closed) or a student stuck at home, following courses online.
Speaking of which...Jackie is still unsure about college, though she’d like to take a class in taxes.
Taxes? Another farfelu idea?
“Well,” Jackie explained. “I’m tired of paying someone else to do mine!”
Who knows where this latest hunch will take our Go-Getter? Meantime she’s bought the current no. 1 book on finance and is saving (most) every penny while looking for a good investment.
I hope you enjoyed today's update on my daughter. Now remember, no matter your age: Be a smart cookie and follow your dream! Sois débrouillarde. Suis ton rêve.
The crew from channel M6 filming Jackie for a special report. If you are in France look up the M6 schedule for March 28th (not sure of the name of the episode...look for Baccarat or Miami report!)
Baccarat "Harmonie" Tumblers. This gift was serendipitous:"Harmonie" was the name of Jackie's first horse. Ever since, the word "harmonie" has always held a special significance. This was such a meaningful reward from Baccarat!
If you are in the market for a fabulous French chandelier (or anything crystal! I love their papillons/butterflies...) contact Jackie at the Miami boutique. She will be happy to help you! Or stop by the bar for a refreshment....
farfelu = crazy, farfetched
la restauration = the restaurant industry
une bagnole = slang for car
un petit ami = boyfriend
il ne faut jamais sous-estimer une débrouillarde = one must never underestimate a smark cookie!
embaucher = to hire
un apéritif = alcoholic beverage enjoyed before dinner
un boulot = slang for "a job"
an internship = un stage
food runner (busgirl) = aide-serveuse
a go-getter = un fonceur, une fonceuse
A LIRE/TO READ
Jackie at 17, in Paris: "Je suis assez capable de me gérer moi-même."
To Flip Somebody Off in French
A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.
Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens