Compris or Non Compris
In France, the price of service in a restaurant is included in the bill and the servers are paid roughly about 15% of your total ticket. If you feel the service was excellent and you want to add a little extra, 5% of your tab can be left on the table. I wish I had had this tidbit of information before I ate my first meal out in town. We had a discussion in class about restaurants, ordering and how the French menu is laid out. What we did not discuss was the well-known fact amongst the French that the service is always included in the price of the meal.
*The universe will always give us several opportunities to learn how and when to shift our energy to a more powerful stance.
My first open market in the lovely town of Merville was tarnished by a deflating exchange with one of the merchants. He interacted with me long enough to ascertain that I was a foreigner. He decided to change the price of the merchandise I was buying because according to him, the price written on the tag was not correct and should have been five euros more. I’m conversational in French, but not confrontational. Do the French even allow haggling?
I then chose to perch myself at a table in a nearby restaurant to partake in a little people watching. I waited patiently for the hostess to acknowledge me and when it was finally my turn, I held up one finger to indicate that I would be dining alone. Anticipating a lovely view of the ocean, my smile turned to a frown as we passed all the scenic spots and made our way to a table next to the only bathroom in their small establishment. Watching people on their way into the bathroom was not quite what I had in mind. Yuck!
After making my selection for my meal, I wanted to be sure I had an ample amount of cash for a tip, so I searched the menu from top to bottom to discover if the service was included in the price of the meal. I then asked my server: “Est-ce que le service est compris ou non compris?” “Non compris” she told me. (Not included) And here’s where my plan went awry… it never occurred to me she would lie. For three days, in separate restaurants, I paid my servers slightly more than double the amount of tip that the French patrons pay. I left 20% of the total bill that apparently had 15% built in! The service industry here caught a whiff of my naivety and exploited it. If it had happened only at the market, I could have said “well, that guy was a jerk.” But several exchanges in this energy? Life was speaking to me, and she had my undivided attention.
What we believe and think in our big and small moments is our vibrational frequency. (I’m hoping you know this by heart by now). I’ve had moments of feeling insecure with my ability to comprehend and adequately respond on the fly in French given my twenty-seven-year hiatus. At times, I can hear my voice start its ascent at the end of a declarative statement. My servers probably read me from the moment I said bonjour. I offered uncertainty, and they filled in my gaps with their certitude. This, mes amis, is the universe offering me an opportunity to change.
*If you are willing to face your fears, you will be rewarded. When we are courageous, our energy is high. We will attract a similar frequency. Look around in your world for validation of this new frequency. It may not be obvious, but there is always external validation that you are moving in a more powerful way.
In learning a foreign language, we are encouraged to take on the persona of a French person. We are told that we must completely detach from our native language to embrace the new culture and her utterances. I asked a new French friend how tipping worked in France and once I understood what the score was, I put on my big girl panties, my best French accent and marched back into one of those restaurants. I asked the hostess for a table by the window, which I got with no problem. I gave my waitress my order with confidence, down to the still water in a carafe and a café allongé.
I write about my everyday occurrences because I want people to understand that everyday life is energy in action. I am someone that meditates daily and keeps my energy fairly high in most areas of my life, but here was a source of shame that needed to heal. You see, it was never about the money or being taken advantage of by strangers in a foreign land. It was about my turning my feelings of inadequacy around letting my language skills lapse inward all of these years to the point of letting it negatively impact my self-esteem. This was the energy that put a target on my back. These locals were simply the players the universe used to motivate me to transform my low self-worth into a source of strength.
Following my coup at the restaurant, I went to the bakery to claim my prize. I ask the pâtissière how to pronounce the name of a scrumptious looking pastry from Bretagne. She smiled, complimented me on my pronunciation and charged me 3 euros…the very price displayed in the pastry case. Her response to me showed me that when I believe in myself, I attract people that believe in me too. Has my vibration shifted into a higher frequency? Let’s just say I’m looking forward to the next town market…