Sweet Life In the Land of Outlaws

When my parents visited me in the US for the first time in the 90s, many things surprised them. Most changed the idea they had of the US and of the American people. Two of them remain vivid in my memory. They are symbolic of perhaps one of the major difference between living in France and in the US.
My mother was concerned that someone would steal the stamped letters I was leaving in my mailbox for the mailman.  My father asked me why nobody took the newspaper left in the driveway. Both were worried that I didn’t double-check each and every one of my doors and windows before leaving home.
I was living then near San Francisco and later in the Boston suburbs. Busy areas, packed with people and traffic, and their reasonable amount of delinquency.
My parents have spent their entire life in Normandy, in a small, quiet village with all the appearances of complete safety, and yet their mailbox has a key, their neighbors pick up their mail when they are gone for the day, and they lock their door when they go buy their baguette, three minutes away.
I now live in Central California near Fresno, one of the American cities with the highest rate of car theft and gang activity in the country.
Yesterday morning I forgot my computer cord with the charger at a local café, always bursting with activity.
I went back this morning and asked for it. Here was my Apple cord in the lost and found.
This is in Paris that burglars entered my apartment, not only once but three times. This is in Paris that a pickpocket successfully emitted the content of my purse. Still in Paris that several of my friends had their cars vandalized.
My parents, although aware of the higher American respect for private property, never fully let their guards down when they visited me. Even if I told them that nobody would rob my home while we went to the supermarket or that nobody would steal the postcards they sent to my sister. 
As I am preparing my summer trip to France, including a few days in Paris, I consider my luggage, wondering what purse is safer, what I should or not carry with me.
After all, one of my closest American friends is just back from Europe. Her iphone and camera have been stolen in Spain. In a café and at the airport. 
I am well aware that violence is brutal in the US compared to France and most of Europe. I am well aware that we have an American tragic love story with guns.
But when it comes to daily life, in twenty years spent in California, Massachusetts and Maine, and all over the country that I have crossed several times from the north and the south, I only got three pairs of glasses stolen. I should say that I forgot them in three different restrooms and never found them.
I’m telling you, even in Fresno, the forgotten California, the land of outlaws, life is sweet when you go home with your Apple charger left alone in a café for more than 24h.

Scène de Vie américaine

Je suis partiale quand il s’agit des Américains. Je sais. Parfois jusqu’à en perdre mon sens critique. Mais j’ai de bonnes raisons pour clamer « American people are just great. »
Hier j’ai écrit de 9h à 12h dans un de mes cafés favoris. Un des avantages du MacAir, mis à part son poids léger et sa petite taille qui me permettent de le glisser dans mon sac à main, c’est sa batterie qui dure, qui dure…Un peu comme la pub des piles Wonder.
Mais pour être certaine de pouvoir lire mon e-mail plus tard dans la journée, j’ai tout de même rechargé mon ordinateur avant de quitter le café.
Ce n’est que ce matin à 7h, avant de conduire mes enfants à l’école, que je me suis aperçue de la disparition de mon chargeur de batterie. Apple le facture comme si c’était du caviar, alors j’étais bien ennuyée.
En revivant mentalement ma journée (longue journée qui s’est terminée à 22h), je me suis dit que je l’avais forcément oublié au café. 
Vous avez déjà oublié quelque chose dans un café français ?
J’ai! Vous l’avez retrouvé? Moi, jamais.
Je ne vous raconte ni mes trois cambriolages dans trois appartements parisiens différents ni le vol du contenu de mon sac à main aux puces de Clignancourt.
Après avoir déposé mes enfants à l’école, j’ai filé au café. Le mêmegarçon se tenait derrière le comptoir. Il se souvenait m’avoir vue. Mais mon chargeur? Pas sûr.
Après une recherche infructueuse dans le panier objets trouvés, le manageur du café a été contacté et quelques secondes plus tard, je suis repartie avec mon câble caviar.
Presque 24 heures après! Pas mal! Je ne sais pas si un client l’a rapporté au comptoir ou si un employé l’a trouvé, mais je me suis sentie rassurée sur ce monde qui ne tourne pas toujours très rond. 
Et bien sûr, plus que jamais convaincue que ce genre d’histoire ne peut vraiment être que Made in America.

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