Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Paris=cancer. Don't say that you weren't warned

I am just exhausted right now and its taking everything I've got to not break open a bottle of wine and collapse on the sofa (although I suppose 5:45 pm is definitely late enough to be considered cocktail hour, right?) Ella and I got up at DAWN to go and see a musical children's show in the neighborhood with some friends. We dashed out of the house and practically ran the whole way in order to be there on time, which we were (for once). But it didn't matter, because the door was jammed and the actors couldn't get in. Talk about bad luck. So after standing on the sidewalk for 40 minutes trying to entertain 3 toddlers who wanted nothing more than to dash out between parked cars and be flattened, wiley coyote style by delivery vans, we finally gave up and went to the park, only to find out from a different mom about 20 minutes later that they had the door open if we still wanted to go and see the show. We did, but it ended up screwing up my day since I got nothing done all morning.

This afternoon I managed to find a travel agent who could book all our tickets for Brasil, which was a relief. I had gone to Comptoirs du Monde on rue St Paul three times over the course of the past week and still had zero info. Once they told me the girl I needed to talk to was on coffee break, could I come back later or better yet, tomorrow. The second time she took down my info and asked me to come back 4 days later to talk because she was too busy to deal with it then. The third time she said she hadn't gotten to it, could I come back in 2 days. I should point out that I was the only client in the place every single time and just getting someone to acknowledge my hello took about 2 minutes every time I walked in. Someone once said to me that the best indication of how well your service will be in a restaurant is how long it takes them to greet you once you walk in the door. I should have realized that the same rule applied to this travel agent.

The worst part is that it put me in such a rotten mood. Sometimes I'll have these days when all the bad French service just wears me down and it feels like it is impossible to accomplish anything at all in this country. Days where you spend an hour on the phone with some fonctionnaire only to find out that you have no more info than when you started. Or when you go in a store and find the exact item you've been searching for for ages, only to have to leave it on the shelf because the salesgirls are too busy chatting to come and ring you up.

Today, I did manage to resolve the plane ticket problem but my second errand was to stop at a place that I had seen advertising free trials at their power plate gym. I went in, only to find out that they are so booked solid by regulars that you can't hardly schedule a session, let alone try it out. And then if you do pay for a series of sessions and you immediately need to get out your agenda and take appointments for the next month- appointments which are non-refundable if you cancel within 24 hours of the appointment. And if you are more then 5 minutes late, you have basically lost your appointment. But even so, there is no point in calling in the am to see if you can take a cancellation because they just don't do that. Oh, and actually they only have 3 power plates so its not actually a gym full of machines, like they suggest on their brochure (guess someone was messing around a bit on photoshop...) its actually a room about 30 m². So, a reasonable person might wonder WHY were they handing out thousands of flyers giving free trials? An offer, by the way, which made me decide to totally go out of my way this afternoon to stop by the place to try it out, thereby wasting something like 40 minutes. I suppose on the positive side, I don't actually need to do the power plate today because I walked for so damn long.

See what I mean, France is full of stupid bullshit like this that just wears you down.

You know what? I am going to go and have that glass of wine right now. And tomorrow I will do a quick post about our fantastic weekend in London, with pics and all!! I'll just mention one thing right now- just to get it all out of my system. There was only one low point the entire trip and it was at Gare du Nord, when we returned on Sunday night. We ended up rushing out to get a taxi only to find about 150 people in line in front of us- and no taxis. Seriously, one taxi would come. Then maybe 30 seconds would pass and another would show up. The line would move forward about, oh, three inches. The grumbling of irate travellers was increasing exponentially as the minutes ticked by, although there was universal concensus that the situation was ludicrous. Hello, Paris? Can we resolve the fucking taxi problem one of these decades, for chrissake? Every single time I've needed a taxi (and I'm not at home to order it over the telephone), it turns into some sort of bloody Mission Impossible. It was 10 pm; Ella was exhausted; B's knee was throbbing (he needs to have surgery soon, yet another post...); I had no patience for this typical French disorganization so we walked over to Gare de l'Est and took the metro home, which was just such a bad idea. But since it was Sunday night there weren't any fucking buses running either so we didn't really have any choice. But hey, alls well that ends well, right?

As if I needed another reason to think that its time to get the hell out of Dodge, I read the other day some cancer study that links stress to cancer. So if stress=cancer and Paris=stress, then clearly Paris=cancer. If this is true, I am a goner.


Alix said...

oh dear Nicole, sounds like your having a bad time. The travel agent sounds horrendous, glad you went with someone else. When we lived in Mexico we had similar problems but now we live in the USA - service capital of the world - as far as I'm concerned.
Hope the wine picked you up, looking forward to the London pictures.

adelyn t. said...

"Sometimes I'll have these days when all the bad French service just wears me down and it feels like it is impossible to accomplish anything at all in this country."


I know what you mean...after those days, I end up spawled out on the couch, macarons in hand, watching american tv episodes my friends would send me. I've gained 20lbs in a year. Oh, the horror.

And the gyms! Don't get me started! I tried to sign up with one but eventually gave up. Just more bs.

Hope you're feeling better now. Can't wait to see the London photos! I love London...if only for the efficiency.

Nicole said...

Thanks guys. Its good to get it out and complain a bit. I am so used to it by now that mostly I let all these irritations just slide over me, but every once in awhile I have to scream about it.