Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, March 27, 2009

One of the things I'd forgotten about life in Bretagne was how much people judge you by the kind of car you drive. Fab and I had a 1994 BMW that was in perfect condition and looked a lot newer than it was, and you wouldn't believe the amount of negative comments that we got about. I know I blogged about it before on my old blog, but it was along the lines of "you guys are young & poor, you have no business driving a car like that".

At first, I didn't understand that kind of mentality - I mean really, who's business was it what kind of car we drove? But that was before I understood that one of the worst things you can do in Bretagne is show you have money. Buying a fancy new car or building a swimming pool in your back yard will pretty much guarantee that one of your neighbors or so-called friends will make a call to the tax-man to report that you are under-declaring your income.

I've tried to keep that in mind ever since every time I come back here - mainly renting C3's or basic models along those lines. This time, I'd reserved a Volkswagon Polo, but unfortunately, upon arrival at the agency, I found out that the person who'd rented the previous week had decided to keep it a few days longer. So I found myself with this massive, brand-new C4 minivan. To top it off, the damn thing had a 56 license plate, ie the license plate of my old department, so it looked like it was actually mine (most rental cars have a 60 on their license plate because that department - l'Oise - has the cheapest registration fees).

On one hand, that was a good thing because it meant that I didn't ever get honked or stared at while driving Jasmin around to see the sites (the patience-o-meter for 60's or 75's is pretty much non-existant here). But on the other hand, it made it look like it was mine. Every single one of my clients has made a little dig about it this week. Things along the lines of "Oh la la, The Company must be paying you big bucks now if you can afford that". Even Fab and the nice ex-SIL were like "Whoa, what are you doing with that thing??" When I drove up to my client yesterday, he was doing the whole "big eye goggling" thing and was staring at it, so the first thing I said when I rolled down the window (after "Bonjour" of course) was "It's not mine".

The thing is, I don't even think it's that nice of a nice car! I mean, it's nice enough and has a lot of options for a French vehicule, but I don't find it to be a particularily good-looking vehicule. It's a frickin' minivan people!! I even went back after a few days to try to get the Polo, but it still wasn't in yet. So all this to say - I'm really looking forward to giving the darn thing back to the rental agency this afternoon.

Paris, here I come - bring on the rhumrhums!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh god that sounds beyond irritating...a car is so conspicuous as well. I really find that kind of mentality lame though. It reminds me of one of the Stephen Clarke books where people are riding old rusty bicycles to prove they belong in the village..

Honestly, Bretagne sounds bloody awful. The people just sound terrible.

March 27, 2009 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Starman said...

I think you worry too much about what other people think. I, on the other hand, would have asked for the biggest, flashiest car they had and when the locals started with their negatives, would have flipped them the bird.

March 27, 2009 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Um starman, I think you're forgetting that that was my home - the point was to try to integrate and fit in in the village, not to alienate myself even more.

March 27, 2009 at 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny - last year I finally bought my dream car, a BMW (the smallest one). I'm getting the same kind of comments: "How can a teacher afford a car like that?!" Well, people, it's called having a goal in mind and saving money for a really long time so that I could pay for half of it outright (and I hope to pay off the loan for the rest of it in three or four years). I know I'll drive this car for at least 10 years, so I think it's worth every penny - and I love it!

March 27, 2009 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I don't think it is anybody's business what car you drive.

March 27, 2009 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

i think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the states ogling a minivan (except perhaps moms of toddlers or something)... those 56ers are just weird stuff, man.

March 28, 2009 at 3:22 AM  
Blogger kylie said...

i didn't think you sounded all that worried about it.

March 30, 2009 at 11:01 AM  

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