Humor Using Phones in France

Humor Using Phones in France is a true story:

Just before the days of cell phones, people in France without home phones had to stand in line to use scarce pay phones, often out in public.

In Paris a beautiful young American girl, Barbara Dillon, is waiting in line to use a pay phone at the entry to a Metro subway station.

Finally when it is her turn, she calls her boyfriend back in the United States.

She starts excitedly telling him everything about her trip to Europe and all about Paris. All this telling takes quite some time. But she wants to tell it all now, so she won’t have to stand in line again to wait to use another public phone.

She glances back over her shoulder at the line of French people waiting their turn to use this pay phone. She sees they are starting to get a little impatient.

But she still has more to tell her boyfriend back home.

Suddenly the elderly French woman in line behind her, without saying a word, reaches her arm past Barbara and brings her hand down on the switch in the phone cradle on the wall --- ending Barbara’s phone call.


Barbara is so startled and shocked by this unexpected French rudeness that she stands there for a moment -- before she tries to think of something to say. But just beginning to learn French, and now so discombobulated, she can’t come up with anything to say in French to the old woman.

So frustrated, Barbara says the first thing that finally comes to mind:


Still discombobulated, Barbara says nothing more. She turns and walks away and down the stairs to the Metro subway.

There at the foot of the stairs she sees another pay phone -- and no line waiting to use it.

So she calls her boyfriend back to tell him about the unbelievable thing that just happened to her -- and why her call to him was cut off.

As she’s telling him all this, she sees the same old French woman coming slowly down the stairs toward her.

The old crone gets to the bottom of the stairs -- and walks right over to Barbara.

There the old hag pauses for a moment -- staring malevolently at Barbara.

A bit irrationally, Barbara uses her free hand to cover the phone cradle switch on the wall, so the evil woman can’t end her phone call again.

The old shrew appears to sputter for a moment, seemingly trying to come up with something to say to the young American foreigner.

Finally the old witch says, in a thick French accent, perhaps the only few words she knows in English:

“Son of a Bitch!”



Humor of David Sedaris from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day

1. Humor of Two Types of French Spoken by Americans.

2. Humor of Knowing Only a Few Words of French.

3. Humor of Male and Female Genders in French.

4. Humor of Language Tapes in French.

5. Humor of Vocabulary Cards in French.

6. Me Talk Pretty One Day is the humor of a French Class in Paris.

7. Humor of Subtitles in French for American Movies.

Link to buy the book Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris from


Humor of Other People Learning French:

Humor Traveling in France Alone.

Humor of a Jam in Paris.

Humor of Doing It in French.

Humor Learning Fench in Kindergarten.

Humor Saying Cheese.

Humor of Steve Martin on French.

For another Barb Dillon travel story, see Humor of Signs in British English.


Return to Humor of Language Learners.

Return to Easiest French Introduction.


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