Scarred for Life … At The Louvre.
I stepped up to the counter and handed my camera to a particularly formidable looking woman. She took it and then cast a meaningful glance at a small wooden box on the counter in which there were several dozen coins. This gesture was not lost on me: a tip was expected.
But how much? “Combien?” I asked.
A bit impatiently, the woman replied, “Çe que vous-voulez, monsieur.” Whatever I wished.
There were a dozen or so people milling around waiting to enter the museum and several others behind me waiting to check some of their belongings. Still, the woman behind the counter stood there, holding my camera and the claim check, clearly waiting for me to leave a tip in the box.
The woman stared at the coin in disbelief for several seconds. Then, drawing herself up into a veritable picture of indignation, she gestured with disdain at that shiny silver coin and said in a loud voice fairly quivering with incredulity:
I’m quite sure everyone in that anteroom heard her clearly and a hush fell over the room as all turned to get a look at the hopeless boob who had tipped this poor woman just two francs.
Leave it to the French: their biggest, heaviest, shiniest coin was worth just a bit more than one half of one cent … U.S.