…one ampoule (lightbulb) at a time. Okay. So, ever since our arrival here in the appartement, there have been 9 lightbulbs that are burnt out in the corridor and staircase. So immediately I thought Break-out and considered replacing them as an act of kindness. But I wanted it to be well planned and my motives to be right in doing it, so I kept busy getting everything else in swing and chatted with my friends about this future possibility. Then we went to Portugal for a week and I was really expecting that the syndic (appartement counsel) would fix them while I was away, robbing me of my opportunity. Et Voila! upon our return there were 10 out! As you can imagine this makes it quite dangerous to climb our winding staircase in the dark. So I just couldn’t wait any longer and this morning when Holly and Sonia showed up for our triad (weekly prayer meeting) I simply proposed that I would be replacing all the lightbulbs in the hall after our meeting and they were welcome to join me if they had the time, and of course they did.
oh, yeah … I’ve decided that Americans should not attempt reaching out to this culture without a tray of homemade American chocolate chip cookies on hand, because they are just such a wonderful ice-breaker. I haven’t found anything that works better. It’s one thing to replace a lightbulb with nobody noticing, and it’s another thing to have a conversation over cookies while you place the bulb.
I decided to do this during the day because it is light enough in the hallway to see while the bulbs are changed. Plus it’s a perfectly natural time for me to be running errands. But for most people, they will not know what we’ve done because they were out at work when we came by. That’s okay though because random acts of kindness only work when you are genuine. And that means the purpose has to be about light in the hallway and lightbulbs, not about conversations. It turned out to be a great time to meet students since class had already finnished for the day.
The three of us bound down the stairs knocking on doors and replacing all the lights on the way. The first young man we met fired questions at us, “How much does he owe us?”, “Do we work for the syndic?”, “Shouldn’t we wait for the syndic?”. In fact it had been over a month so I felt that we were not premature in our decision to take care of it ourselves. He asked us to be quiet since his grandmère (grandmother) was sleeping. Then with a change of heart he asked if he could offer us a ladder and said he would like to learn how to change the bulb. (A valid request since the couvercle (light shade) has a secret lever hidden in one side that allows it to be detached.) He then joined our troop and followed us to the next door where a nice young lady answered and engaged us in conversation inquiring what fields everybody was studying. It was intriguing and she is so sweet and nice that I felt really bad I had forgotten to fetch another tray of cookies. So after all the lights were in place and Holly and Sonia were on their way out the door, I followed them down to see if the gal on the ground floor was still there. And Yes, sure enough she was! So I offered her some cookies and she was obliged and commented, “Yum are these real American cookies?” We must have quite a reputation in this country. So she shared more about herself and what brought her to Paris and she inquired about what kind of church I work with. Then she asked me if I would help her with her English!!! I guess she has a test on the 28th. I’m so excited because I was looking for soemone to do an echange des langues (language exchange) and she even initiated it. Yeah! So I will meet her at her appartement on Friday to speak English and later she will help me with my French too.