Warning: Although it might seem that I am profiling in this submission, I am not—all of the statements are true to the best of my knowledge.
Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone are truly two of the most beautiful places I have been. I am also pretty sure that I saw more French people there than I ever saw in France.
I have always stood up for the French. When everyone would say how rude they were, I recounted all of the positive experiences that I had with the French when I visited Paris. They would go out of their way to be kind. Not so much in Yellowstone—at least the ones I met. I thought it was odd, maybe the fresh air did something to their mind. Who knows. One instance in particular:
To begin, Yellowstone has got the BEST souvenir stores on the planet. They have great stuff. I had piled up T-Shirts, coffee mugs, an assortment of hats for Reed, and waddled over to one of the registers. As you do, I picked the best line. After years of practice, I have learned the criteria for the best line—it does not mean shortest or longest—you have to look at the items that the person has, and if they have cash or credit. Cash always goes faster. I placed my bets, and went behind what I calculated to be the best line.
As my mark paid and started to walk off, someone JUMPED in front of me. I peered over Reed’s moose hat. I was shocked—you just don’t JUMP the line. I had seen that he had been in another line, and yes, he did arrive in the line area prior to me, but he placed his bets, and obviously, was unaware how lines moved in the States. He bet wrong.
So let me paint this picture a bit brighter: If I was at the grocery store, and this happened, there would be a mutiny. You don’t just automatically get to go first based on your arrival time in the line area—you make a choice as to the line that you want to go in and you COMMIT. If you get lucky, a line might open and you can move, or you can move if you see one moving quicker, but you don’t leap in front of other people because you were in the general vicinity first. Wars have happened over smaller things. If this had happened in any Walmart in my home state of Texas, arms might well have been drawn or the line-cutter might have been pelleted with a six pack of Bud. News articles raged in the press when Obama, the PRESIDENT, cut in line at a barbecue joint in Texas about a month ago—NO ONE gets special exemption to line etiquette. Such an act makes National news.
So here I am—dumbfounded. Of course, I was unarmed—I was in a National Park. I was worried that if I did something that might seem aggressive, I would get thrown OUT of the park, and I had souvenirs to buy and hadn’t gone through any of the geyser attractions yet; however, I could not let this go. I did have my bear spray, but thought that might not be wise, so I coped out and said: “Excuse me, what are you doing? This is not the way it is done!”
The cutter looked at me with designer looking frames, and I instantly knew he was French. I could just tell—he was dressed in Marmot outdoor wear—way too fancy for an American on a day out hiking with the fam, and anyway, we all knew the rules of the line. “Well, this is the way I do it,” he retorted in his snub French accent.
I almost dropped my son’s moose hat, ceramic mug, souvenir travel mug, sweatshirt and t-shirts.
I was speechless—for a second.
“Maybe in France, but not here. Your lucky I only have bear spray and don’t know how to use it!”
The French-tourist-line-cutter looked at me in bewilderment, and he was now speechless. Hopefully, he realized what a gross cultural misstep that he just made.
I stared at him defiantly and gripped my coffee mug. If necessary, I would smash it over his designer glasses. At least then he couldn’t see the souvenirs that he was buying illegitimately in front of me.
Silence. Nobody around me, not even cashier said anything. I know that they knew I was right. I really wish I had known how to use the bear spray.
I watched him as he walked out. I noticed he was alone. He obviously didn’t even have any French friends. Not that I felt sorry for him.
I recounted the story to my husband who had been completely oblivious. As we then went to the geysers, I preened my ears for accents and different languages. I was just waiting for the next offensive action. I was on defense. Zero Tolerance.
Folks seemed to be on their best behavior. I did note that the Americans were the most polite, but then I could understand them. I was also clutching my bear spray.
When I made it to the Bitterroot Ranch where I was teaching for the week, all the guests had arrived except for one group—the French. The owner complained that the French were ALWAYS the late ones. One of the guests commented that they had probably been rude to someone and they gave them wrong directions. I felt slightly validated.
Consequently, they never arrived. They are probably still doing loops around Yellowstone.
When I reached the desk at Delta and had to surrender my bear spray (they won’t let you take it home with you, even on checked luggage), I asked the agent at the desk what they would do with it. She said that they donated all bear spray to the boy scouts. I told them that they could keep it behind the counter—just in case there were any French line cutters that needed a spray in the face. I knew one in particular, and really hoped secretly that he cut there and pissed off the wrong Delta agent.
There will be more on Yellowstone, it is worth two blogs.
P.S. I am not prejudice against any nationality. I am prejudice against rude people—wherever they are from.
One of my favorite things about Wyoming was the food! It is a hunter and fisherman’s paradise. While we were there, my husband Jim did some fishing, and caught some trout. He had to release those; however, we had some great trout at the inn that we stayed at after the clinic. This is how they prepared it:
Pan Seared Trout
• 2 pound rainbow trout fillets, scaled, cut into 4 ounce pieces
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons of dill
• 1 tablespoon of paprika
• 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (or less if you don’t like to live dangerously)
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons black pepper
• melted butter
• Rub fillets with olive oil, and season with the spices. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
• Heat heavy skillet on high. Pat dry fillets with paper towel. Add 2 pieces at a time, skin side down. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until skin is crispy. Flip to other side, cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve skin side up.
• Drizzle with lemon juice and butter