“Ce n’est pas possible” is actually possible…

Today, I learned that when the French say “Ce n’est pas possible,” they really mean “It’s possible, but not for you.”

In the morning, as I was depositing money into my bank account, the ATM machine ate my card. It wasn’t because I entered in the wrong code, it was because I didn’t retrieve the card fast enough when I was done with the transaction…lesson learned. I thought it was going to be okay because I had my passport with me, so they could check my ID and I would get my card back right away. So…I went to line up at the counter, but class was starting in half an hour, and the line was not moving. The French are slow and really take.their.time. I got a bit antsy and was becoming extremely flustered. I asked the person in front of me if I could just ask the receptionist a quick question, and they told me to go ahead. The receptionist was an old lady, who did not look like she was in a good mood….After I told her my situation, she said “Oh. Ce n’est pas possible. You need your passport.”

“Oh, I have it right now!” I told her.

“No, you have to come back tomorrow.”

“Wait, why? It ate my card just now.”

“Ce n’est pas possible. I will get it tomorrow. You come back to this bank tomorrow with your passport.”

Erm…..yeah. Pretty sure you could get it on the same day. I left, feeling pissed off. Something didn’t feel right.

That very afternoon, after I had calmed down a bit from this morning’s anxiety, I went back to the bank. This time, I stayed in line, didn’t ask to cut, and I put a huge-ass smile on my face.

“Bonjour madame, I was here this morning about my card.”

“Oh yes.” She then proceeded to open a drawer from behind her and take out my card. Uh….okay.

“Vous avez votre passeport?”

“Oui, voila!” I replied.

“Ah, merci.” Then she proceeded to call. I was a bit confused and she said she is going to reactivate my account for me. Uh….Okay, what did I do differently this time to get such an angel?

What was different this time was probably how I presented myself. I was anxious and flustered. More importantly, her mood wasn’t great either. Secondly, I went in the afternoon, so she probably had just came back from her lunch break. People are usually always in a good mood after eating…especially when your country gives you like a 2 hour lunch break.

In the evening during my French civilization course, I brought this up with my instructor. She explained that the French use “Ce n’est pas possible” all the time, but they never mean it. What a French would do in my situation is refuse to leave, or cry. Haha…

So there you go… When the French tell you “Ce n’est pas possible,” it’s not really true. You just either have to convince them, or…like my instructor said, act like what a French person would do.


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