Wednesday, October 6, 2010

americans: ugly and probably have tuberculosis

monday i had my appointment at the ofii office in marseille. to be allowed to stay in france for an extended period of time and receive a carte de sejour, you have to go to ofii for a medical visit. the sole purpose of this visit is to x-ray your lungs and make sure you don’t have tb. this only applies to people from outside the european union. so our friend who is canadian and lives in canada, but also has a belgian passport, didn’t have to go to the visit. because eu passports are imbued with tb antibodies or something. i don’t know.

a whole group of assistants are told to show up at 1:30 and made to wait in an area on the steps and listen for a frenchified version of their names to be called over the intercom. luckily, my name (“anna steel”) was called early on. so i left behind the not-so-lucky ones like my friend madeline who came in with me and was still waiting to be called in when i was walking out of the visit an hour and a half later. 

everything was going pretty normally until the actual x-ray of my lungs. i’m taken into a small room to change and told i can keep on my tank top, but that i have to take off my bra and cardigan for the x-ray. so i’m standing awkwardly in this big, cold room in front of the technician. he takes the x-ray and i’m about to leave when he says to me “si je puis dire, vous êtes très belle pour une américaine”  which translates to “if i may say so, you’re very beautiful for an american.” 

i was completely taken aback and not sure what to be more upset by:
  • the inappropriateness of a medical professional remarking on my looks at all, and especially during a procedure while i'm in an uncomfortable and somewhat vulnerable position
  • the fact that he tacked on “for an american” at the end. 

in my shock i didn't say any of this, just mumbled/stuttered something and scurried back into the changing room.

to follow that up, then i go in for the doctor to check the x-ray. i tell him that no, i’m actually not a student, i’m teaching here, and he asks me how old i am. i tell him and he just squints at me and says i don’t look old enough to be teaching anyone.

on the bright side, i do have very healthy lungs and definitely do not have consumption. 


  1. of course you were wearing a cardigan. HA!

  2. duh i was. i couldn't bring myself to give up a single one of them when i was getting rid of clothes before i left. i need them all.

  3. this was lol, almost rofl, funny. i'm at work (hence, no rofl) and have nothing to do and decided to catch up on your blog. hope you are doing well!!