The Word on the Street Is . . . Régie

Word on the StreetIn Montreal, the term régie (referring to a board or government office) is often hurled about in heated exchanges between employees and employers—no matter what language they speak. My first experience with the word régie was somewhat disheartening.

Many moons ago, I was working as the popcorn girl at the Cinéma du Parc. One day I showed up for work and was greeted by a beefy security guard stationed at the front door. Lo and behold, the owners had declared bankruptcy and skipped town, and the workers were left holding . . . a bag of popcorn. Who did we call? The régie. (We really contacted the Commission des norms du travail, but everyone called it the régie.)

In the end, we never got our money—there was no money to be had as everything of value was in the girlfriend’s name. In a moment of desperation, one of my co-workers suggested selling off what remained of the candy counter, but we never got our hands on it.

Ultimately, the term régie seems to be more of a threat than anything else. You fling it at your foe, hoping they’ll get scared into doing the right thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s either that or show up with a baseball bat.

Know any other French terms used to put the fear of God in someone?

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