At Starbucks

A horde of middle-school-aged boys and girls streamed through the front doors and stopped near my high-top table at Starbucks.

Their baby-faced camp counsellor, distinguished from his charges by a name tag on a lanyard around his neck, brought up the rear. A group of girls to my right whispered about their favorite drinks. This one liked chai lattes. That one stuck to Frappuccinos. A third strode to the counter and placed her order.

“Marie, en français s’il vous plaît,” said the counselor.

Marie rolled her eyes. “They don’t speak French here.”

I smiled to myself and waited, counting down in my head, “three, two, one…”

“Mais bien sur, nous parlons français ici!” Robin, the French-accented barista, excused himself from his meeting with the regional manager and hurried behind the counter to help his English-speaking colleague.

The kids tittered. Then they shocked me. Each attempted his or her order in French and followed it up with simple pleasantries. Robin issued gentle corrections of vocabulary or grammar, punched in their order, and wished them well.

Boisterous au revoir’s bounced off the walls as the horde departed. Robin resumed his meeting and I got back to work.

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