Want to know how the French treat pregnant women?
Seriously, I don’t have to wait in line ever. Not at the grocery store, not for a fitting room, and definitely not at the airport. I get offered a seat wherever I go, especially on the tram, and restaurant servers even agree to let me order my meat bien cuit. People here are so accommodating and it’s very appreciated.
Let me tell you a little story about my flight back to the U.S. From the moment I arrived at the airport in Montpellier, I was pulled out of every line – ticketing, security, and boarding – and bumped up to the front. When I got on the plane, a man put my bag in the overhead bin for me and the stewardess gave me a little pillow that she insisted I put in between my belly and the seatbelt for takeoff and landing. If there was a line for the bathroom on the plane, people demanded I go in front of them. At one point I even told a girl, that it was totally ok, I was fine and she could go ahead of me. ”No,” she said, “it’s the right thing to do.” I was loving this cultural phenomenon and was eager to see if I’d be treated the same way when I got to the JFK.
When I landed, I walked through the maze of hallways to reach the customs line. A man was directing people to different lines (U.S citizens and non-U.S. citizens) and he did put me in a “special” line without a wait. Customs was a breeze and the agent was very nice to me, but that’s sort of where my special treatment ended. Not that I needed it or was asking for it, just an observation that I made. No one helped me get my suitcase from the baggage claim and no one let me to the front of any other lines. In fact, when I reached my very crowded gate, no one even offered me a seat. So far, not impressed with the etiquette in the U.S.
As I was going back through security for my final flight to Cleveland, I stood in a long line as the TSA agent in charge asked over and over again if anyone was “Delta Premier” or on the “1:45pm flight” so that she could put them in the special line with no wait. I had a 3 hour layover, so I was in no rush and didn’t ask to be put in the special line, but I found it interesting that she obviously saw that I was pregnant with several bags and didn’t offer to bump me to the front even though the special line was currently empty. After about 10 minutes of waiting, a man standing behind me spoke up and said to the TSA agent, while pointing to me,
“Excuse me, but I’m actually Delta Premier. Can I please let this woman take my place?”
“Oh sure,” said the TSA agent, “in fact, you can both go over to the Premier line.”
As we both moved over to the other line, I said, “Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!” He smiled and said, “it’s no problem.”
Then I recognized his accent.
“You’re French, aren’t you?” I asked him.
“Yes I am!” he answered.
“I thought so! I live in Montpellier. You all treat your pregnant women so well!” I exclaimed. ”That was really nice of you.”
“Well,” he said echoing the bathroom girl on the airplane, “it’s the right thing to do.”
He went on to tell me that he has 3 daughters himself and that he hoped I had an easy flight. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that it took a French guy to get me special treatment in the U.S.
Those Frenchies, I tell ya, they’re some good ones.