In Paris I go to the laundry mat about once a week. Sometimes I take my dog Indy along, just for some company while waiting for my clothes to finish their spinning joyride. It was during one such evening that my story of the day takes place.
It was almost closing time so the janitor had already arrived by the time my clothes were finishing. She’s a charming little Indian woman-somewhere in her late forties. She smiled at me while opening the cleaning cupboard to get her supplies. I returned the smile as I unloaded my warm clothes. Indy remained sitting on the floor, day-dreaming about better times like breakfast or fetch. I had just started folding my clothes and loading them into my bag when it happened.
The janitor pulled out a broom.
Anyone who has ever seen a bulldog around a vacuum or a broom will understand the intensity with which these items are hunted by the otherwise snorting, lazy creatures. One sweep in and Indy was already crouched, ready to pounce, hop, chase, and in general be an annoying pest to the poor woman. As her furry butt began its first launch I decided to cut her off before she began playfully irritating the janitor. The woman had yet to notice that my dog had already claimed the plastic bristles as her prey. So I instinctively yelled out
As I stated earlier, the janitor is an Indian woman. An Indian woman who had not seen my dog do anything, so didn’t realize I was yelling out the name of my furry companion. A woman who was under the impression that I enjoy randomly yelling out the nationality of people who cross my path. Like some sort of specialized tourette syndrome. So naturally she responded in kind.
“Excuse me?!” All traces of her smile vanished. One hand reflexively went to her hip, eyes narrowed as she looked me up and down with what can only be described as complete disgust.
“No, no, no. Sorry, no, that’s the name of my dog-she was about to attack your broom. I wasn’t talking to you-I would never do that, ummmmmm I mean yes-you’re Indian-but I wouldn’t call you that-I mean…” (Clearly someone had handed me a shovel as I continued to scramble farther and farther into my hole of humiliation-in French no less).
Her eyes now ready to shoot firebolts.
“Her name is Indy-as in Indian, as in brown people?”
“No-not like that, not at all-like the Harrison Ford movies!!”
(small smile on her end) “ohhh like Indiana-”
“Yes! Exactly, like Indiana Jones” (insert apologetic smile)
“Like in the movies?”
“Yes, like the movies” (I start humming soundtrack while petting my fat, useless bulldog. Woman smiles and joins in the humming)
“I love Harrison Ford, he’s sexy”
(Huge grin of relief washes over my face) “Yes, yes he is”
That’s how the evening ended. She continued cleaning, I continued folding, and for the next ten minutes we both passed the time humming the Indiana Jones soundtrack with the occasional smile at one another.