Traffic incident

On the way back to the office from our last meeting of the day, our taxi driver (and my colleague and I) were alarmed by the behaviour of a car that, just at the Sablon, suddenly pulled out in front of us in the twilight, with no lights on at all, never mind indicators. The next traffic lights were red, and our driver pulled up alongside the offending car, persuaded its driver to wind down her window, and told her in blunt French what he thought of her driving. She replied, no doubt thinking it would simply end the conversation,

“Я не понимаю.”

She had chosen the wrong car to pull that trick on. My colleague leaned forward to the window and conveyed in fluent and very blunt Russian precisely what our taxi driver had said.

Normally I think road rage is childish at best and dangerous at worst, but this seemed justifiable. The driver of the other car rather weakly said she wouldn’t do it again, and so we proceeded on our respective journeys.

Our taxi driver then starting railing against the bloody Poles and why did we ever let them into the EU anyway. My colleague pointed out forcefully that the driver of the other car was Russian, not Polish. I added that I may not speak either language well but I can tell the difference between “Я не понимаю” and “Nie rozumiem” (especially since the Polish is pretty close to the Serbo-Croat “Ne razumijem”/”Не разумем”. The taxi driver settled into a grumpy silence, and brought us swiftly to the office. We did not give him a tip.

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