Friday, 1 February 2008

Hey, who turned out the lights!

One of the daily life differences between the U.S. and France is the timed lighting. Yes, we all know about it, but at precisely the wrong moment, we forget how important this difference is, and are left, literally in the dark.

While dining, my husband accompanied our son to the restaurant's bathroom. My husband came back and my boy "finished his business". He was gone for an unusually long time, so I was just about to check on him. "I was going to the bathroom and the light went out. I couldn't find the switch," our son said with amused disbelief upon his return. He shared with us how he methodically felt the walls on either side of the door, and finally struck upon the switch. (Of course I asked if he washed his hands after- he did).

This timed switched lighting is tricky for those who aren't used to it. Even though we know the lights are timed, when entering a room, hallway or a stairway that has a light on, we just expect that the light will stay on until we choose to turn it off. It's as if the lighting in France mocks anyone who isn't European. The lights conjure up funny little escapades that would leave the victim in the dark at the most inopportune moments. And sure enough, you can almost hear the lights giggling when trapped between etages in a completely darkened apartment for forgetting to tap the switch of the light that was already on.

1 comment:

Starman said...

I first encountered that in Toulouse and it took a while to get used to it.