je ne parle pas francais

I called Quebec this morning. I am supposed to be meeting Dr. Sally Wenzel (the primary investigator for the Severe Asthma Research Program in Pittsburgh, who is awesome) for coffee at a Cafe Supreme on Sunday when I am in Quebec City. I googled the Cafe’s hours and they are not posted, nor have they replied to my e-mail. My first French interaction was a fail:

CS: [Incomprehensible greeting]

Me: Je ne parle pas Francais

CS: No speak English.

Me: Uh, merci.

So, that was awkward.  (We’re meeting at Sally’s hotel now). The thing is, I can stumble my way through reading some basic French. Signage, food labels, etc. Maybe. But as evidenced above, I cannot have a conversation. Never mind that, I could have perhaps figured out how to ask about the Dimanche heures [Sunday hours], except I totally wouldn’t have understood the response.

Fingers crossed my entire 33 hours in Quebec are not filled with French interactions I do not get anywhere with. On that note, I met my local Asthma Society connection/travel companion for coffee yesterday, and we had a fun chat in a Tim Horton’s (in English), which was fantastic. Also I spent twenty minutes on hold with Air Canada before I hung up, which was not fantastic.

Disclosure: Through sponsorship from Merck, the Asthma Society of Canada is covering all of my expenses for the World Congress on Asthma in Quebec City this weekend, including ground transportation, meals, conference registration, accommodation and airfare. I am a member of the ASC’s National Asthma Patient Alliance Executive Committee, but have no obligation to blog about my involvement with the ASC. I just think they’re rad.