In trying to do my US taxes, I needed my bulletins de paye (pay records). I had yet to receive them from my lycée, and this was unusual. I went to the secretariat (secretary) brimming with confidence in my ability to sort this out with him, in French, all by myself.
He understood my problem, called the rectorat, and then told them the problem.
After a few minutes, he hung up the phone and told me, “d’accord, elle ne savait pas pourquoi vous ne les avez pas reçus, mais ce n’est pas un problème. Elle m’a dit qu’elle vas m’envoyer un mail avec vos bulletins de paye. Vous travaillez cet après-midi?”
(Okay, she didn’t know why you haven’t yet received your pay records, but it’s not a problem. She told me she is going to send me un mail with them. Do you work this afternoon?)
“Oui,” I replied.
“Bon, revenez cet après-midi et ils seront probablement là.” (Good. Come back this afternoon and they will most likely be here.)
I was so surprised! Not only did the problem seem to have a very simple solution, but my bulletin de pays would be arriving in the mail that very afternoon.
I walked out of the office wondering how on earth the post office was going to deliver them so quickly. Do they have their own, special rectorat-to-lycée post service? Or was the secretary just being overly optimistic about the whole thing?
Regardless, I went back to the office that afternoon, and it was then that I realized my translation mistake.
He got on his computer, checked to see if he’d receieved le mail, and then proceeded to print out my bulletins de paye.
This is because in French mail does not mean mail.
Gmail is a trademark of Google Inc.
Mail is email and la poste is the mail.
I had fallen victim to a faux ami (false friend), a word that looks and sounds the same, but means something totally different.
One I already knew about, en plus.
Feel free to send me some mail, defined by either language, to make me feel better about ma bêtise (my mistake)!