The movie...

Yo! Bored of super efficient super friendly employees? Motivated staff? Helpful stewards? Polite personnel? Come to France!

New day? New surprise! If you think that you met the king or queen of all idiots yesterday, open wide your eyes today! France has a lot to offer!

These days, the French Cinematheque is running some event dedicated to Spanish cinema director Pedro Almodovar. They are showing all his movies and there is even an exhibition where you can see some of the items the man likes.

I went a couple of times and I was always lucky enough to line up for the ticket office run by a foreigner, but yesterday, damn, the foreigner wasn't there. I looked around and saw two tills open: At one, the machine was broken and while one guy was working, 5 others were looking at him (and probably critisising his attempts to fix the machine), at the other one, a French!!! Well, no-option here, I headed towards the French lady behind the second desk. What follows is our exchange of words:

-Hello! I want two tickets for...
-Almodovar?(great! she recognised in my face that I like good movies)
-OK, it is 12 euro.
-Hold on, shouldn't it be 8 Euro?
-NON, 6 euro each.
-But I have the discount card.
-Yes, and the full price is 9 euro, but with the card you pay 6.
-But I have always paid 4 euro.
Some silence... her mouth becomes a volcano crater and shouts:
-For the exhibition???!!!
-No, for the movie.
-Well, I didn't mention the word Almodovar.
She goes into panick mode, no self criticism, accusing me of misleading her (with what, my face...?), and when I think there is no other option than telling the public: "Pays de merde", the foreigner who works sometimes there appears. I waved:
-Help! Do you know how this machine works?

She fixed the issue, I got my tickets, I paid the normal price and also this foreigner wished me an enjoyable evening.

The French employee didn't apologise.


Banking in France I

Some people tend to think that men are good in nature and that French are no exception (well, I agree with the first part of this statement, not with the second one). These wishful thinkers feel better by thinking that only the French public employees are bad, or that only French waiters are idiots, however the reality is that French idiocy spans across professions, attacks every social class and pervades all regions, provinces, towns and political parties. In other words, French culture is a rotten tree and all its branches are weak and hopefully in a few years from now, the only remaining of French culture will be a bunch of Asterix cartoons and the Eiffel tower, two of the few things the French built to last.

One month ago, I called my French bank to ask for a new debit card, since the one I have had expired. They asked me to request it by fax. I sent them the fax, then I had to follow up with them by E-mail, since sending a fax in France doesn't mean the recipient has to do anything with it. Several weeks later they contacted me: "Your card will be at your disposal at our office on rue de XXX". Rue XXX, but if I told them there's a branch on rue YYY which is close to my workplace!!! Well, I took my umbrella, scarf and coat (the weather in Paris is miserable, as usual) and headed to the famous rue XXX. I arrived to the rue XXX, and at the number indicated, I found a building in ruins and a poster "do not trespass, dog guarding the building".

I decided to go to the rue YYY office, and the ungraceful, ugly, idiotic employee of that (my?) bank greeted me with a "what are you doing here?". I said smiling, "well, I came to collect my debit card, I think my branch sent it to this one". She asked: "Why?". This must be one of the collaborators, I thought, and replied with a rather nasty face: "Because my branch is outside Paris and I asked them to send it here since I work round this corner". She made faces, complained sottovoce... At some point, after making me feel like her work was important (although ANY immigrant could do it much better) she gave me my card.

I got back to work and noticed that the bank had charged me 16 euro for this card. What am I paying a 120 euro annual subscription for??? (yes, yes, in other countries, banks give you a microwave for opening an account, here they charge you an annual subscription).

Another "banking war" begins.



Do you want to blame as a French person does? Check this out:

I took the guy complaining about the other guy and we got into his office. The guy, playing solitaire and winning, was surprised by our visit. He made the face "what are you doing here?".

-Where is that report?
-Ah... I requested it!!!
-If you requested it, where is it?
-Ehhhh... I sent an E-mail to this guy.
-Mmmm... in July.
-And since July, and in spite of the many requests from this other guy, you didn't get it?
-Ah... I sent an E-mail.
-But you could call him, send him a reminder?
-Yes, but before that, he asked me for another report that I prepared in one day and he read it after 4 weeks! It's very easy blaming on me for the delay, but that guy delayed the whole thing for one month!
-Dude, that guy delayed the thing for 1 month, you have delayed it for almost one year!
-Well, it's not my fault... And anyways, why this urgency?

(the conversation from this point on, moves away from linearity and becomes a loop, an endless loop that is only broken when I pick up his telephone set and call the guy who sent us the report straight away).

I have seem many admirers of the French reading this blog, many wonder how they can become "Frencher" and assimilate to the French culture. Here is my contribution: If you want to become French, learn to blame. Blaming is a key skill in a country that has lost almost every single war since its very creation (well, with the exception of Asterix, who gave some trouble to Julius Caesar... but at the end he also lost). Blaming alone will not make of you a complete idiot, but will certainly help.