Poems of the Week

French Mensch

by Julia Griffin

“A French waiter fired for being ‘aggressive, rude and disrespectful’ says his behaviour wasn’t out of line—he’s just French. Guillaume Rey, who worked at a Vancouver restaurant on Canada’s Pacific coast, filed a complaint with British Columbia’s Human Rights Tribunal against his former employer, claiming ‘discrimination against my culture.’ … In alleging discrimination Rey said French culture just ‘tends to be more direct and expressive.'”—The Guardian

You say I am aggressive, hein?
You’ve dared to call me rude?
You think I’m penitent? De rien;
Va-t-en and eat your food

(So called). If you’d the least soupçon
Of cultural respect,
You’d say instead, mon pauvre con,
“Expressive” and “direct.”

You hate expressiveness? Eh bien,
It is la France you hate,
Petit crétin de Canadien.
For one snatched dinner plate,

One glutton speeded up un peu,
Or aided, malgré lui,
With some expressive word ou deux,
You want me out? Tant pis:

I’ll prove myself a true Français,
Whatever my locale!
That’s all we have to say, chez Rey.
See you au tribunal.