Thursday 22 October 2015

Throwback Thursday: Crepes and Bad Manners in Bormio

I posted about our ski trip last week and mentioned the crepe man. I think his name was Claus. He'd rock up with a little tuc tuc about 4pm every day and make Nutella crepes. While they were cooking he would put dubstep on a little music player and do some quite awkward rave dancing to entertain the crowds. It was mesmerising but I have never seen my students look so embarrassed: they did not know where to put themselves. That alone made it worth queuing.

One afternoon we'd got there early and I waited with three Nutella fans for his tuc tuc to heat up while everybody else went back to the hotel. We sat on the chairs he'd put out for queuing. Kid number 1 got his crepe. Kid number 2 stood up...and was swept to one side by a British man with a woman and three children, who rushed forward and said, "Five crepes please!"

Kid 2 looked crestfallen but shrank back. I wanted to shrink back too. But my overdeveloped sense of justice propelled me forward.

Me: Excuse me, there's a queue
Him: Sorry, I didn't see you
Me: Well, we were here first and it's this boy's turn...
Him: You're not queuing, you're sitting
Me: ...on the chairs put out for queuing
Him: (Turns away)
Me: (Attempting to lighten the situation somewhat) Come on, you're British, you know how to queue!
Him: If you're queuing, you stand here
Me: No, if you're queuing, you sit here, where he has put the chairs, for the queue
Claus: (looking uncomfortable)
Him: Well, can't we just order? We want to go shopping...
Me: No, because it takes quite a while and we've already been waiting for nearly half an hour, and we have been queuing

I was a bit like a dog with a bone by this point. There was a bit more "No I think you'll find..." back and forthing, then...

Him: FINE you go ahead then
Me: Thanks, we will
Him: Who died and put you in charge of queuing, anyway? I bet you're a TEACHER, aren't you?

I was quite taken aback by this, because there was real venom in his voice. He expressed the word teacher as though he were naming some horrible crime. It's why the moment has stayed fresh with me, six months later. I was left with not much to say, so I just said, "Yes." I have thought of a million better things to say since, like pointing out that if I was *his* kids' teacher and I let someone push in front of them when they'd been queuing he would be furious. But I was struck dumb by his disdain.

He hung around muttering about how rude I was before taking his family off elsewhere. The students looked at me like I'd just fought a dragon. "You were very brave, Miss," said Kid 1. "My dad hates people like that. Bullies." Bless them.

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