Friday, May 28, 2010

Possible (Sorta)

The good news is, I found someone to take cash money for my electric bill.

A little bad news came with it. Nothing I can't live with, but I'm not happy about it.

Last night I chased down the guy who'd sent me on the wild-goose chase out of town yesterday. He'd mentioned that there was a tram stop "right in front" of the office where he'd paid his bill. He also told me he's dyslexic when it comes to maps. Fair enough; I know others who have this malady, including someone I travelled with for a week. ("Where are we," I'd ask. She'd shriek and try to find the page in the road atlas. Finally, she took to keeping the road atlas open on the pages we were driving. Still couldn't figure out where we were.)

He hauled out his phone. "If your phone has credit on it, we can call the woman who drove me out there." And so it happened. She told me it was on the Mosson tram-line, second station from the end. That tram-line stops in front of my house, and the strike was over. Fine, I'm on my way to solving the problem.

This morning, however, was the opening of the annual book fair, the Comédie du Livre, with the Mayor and all manner of other people in attendance, along with a number of the writers from this year's partner area, North America. The irony of this didn't escape the committee we've formed to try to re-open the Anglophone Library (you can sign our petition here), so we printed up a huge sign on vinyl-coated cloth and stood right behind the podium where the mayor and all the officials were bloviating. (I'll have more on this in a subsequent blog-post). This occupied me from about 9:30 til about 1, when I came back here and found, in the mail, my latest bill from the power company. The good news was, this was exactly the kind of bill I needed to pay at the post office with, but I decided instead to go out to this little office so I could pay and get an appointment to get turned back on. The bad news is, it had €161.53 added on to it for the next two months. This raised the amount due to, well, all the money I had in my pocket. So I jumped on the tram, headed waaaaay out of town (past the Chateau d'Ô, where I'd done my most recent Epic Walk) and got off where the woman told me.

Nothing there.

I figured okay, maybe "second to last" doesn't mean exactly what it does to an American, just as the "first floor" is what we'd call the second floor. So I checked the next tram stop and there was, as I'd been told, a kind of strip mall. No power company, though.

I got the next tram, spent 20 minutes travelling back to where I'd started, noticed with some delight that the post office was open, stood in line for 30 minutes, where I became the first customer of the clerk I dislike the most, a nerdy little guy with ADD who keeps realigning the pens and so on on his desk, and in seconds I'd handed over my cash, signed a promissory note for my firstborn, and came back home.

You'll notice that in the comments on my last post was an offer from a local resident who blogs as Magic27, a British woman who works as a translator, to help me out on the phone. I got her number, called her, and asked if she'd help. Happy to! We met by the caroussel in front of my street, she called the magic number and, after being on hold for about 20 minutes, got a human being who asked when the bill was paid. I looked at the cancellation, and it said 4pm. She repeated this to the person on the other end and then said to me "You're gonna love this." Some more chat happened, and she hung up.

"The good news is, you're going to get turned on. The bad news is, if you'd called before 3, they could have taken care of you today. As it is, it'll be Monday." The French, you see, don't work weekends.

So now I have to get through the weekend unable to cook or wash the dishes piling up in the sink or take a shower, but Monday I'm back able to do all of that, and I think I'll start with the latter. I took a cold shower yesterday, and I see why the Victorians thought it was a good way to tame sexual desire: I wanted to stop living entirely, and sexual desire is, of course, part of living.

I went to an inexpensive restaurant last night, but I'm not going to be able to do that again before I start cooking. I have to save money for the nose doctor, whom I'm seeing on Monday about the next step in getting my taste and smell back.

But one small step has been accomplished.

Now for those bastards at Orange.


  1. Oh là là. Didn't I warn you, back when you were still in Germany, that this is what was awaiting you in la doulce France?

  2. Sorry Sheila and I sent you on a wild goose chase.

    We were trying to help! In my defense I did say from the beginning that La Poste was the place to give them money!

  3. No, no, Bart. I have a feeling I missed something. Others have mentioned going out there to fill out the forms to start service, so my main frustration here is that I wound up being an hour too late to have electricity for the weekend.

    And if you walk in with a normal bill and get a clerk who knows what the words "Numéro Client" mean, which clearly I didn't the first time, it's no problem at all at La Poste.

    And Olivier's got it right: everyone in France has a variation on this story.

  4. And you had it easy, in a way, since you set your own hours and have some down time to allocate to this. Imagine dealing with this mess while trying to keep a regular job!

  5. I can't help but think that problems in southern France are not quite as irritating as problems in the U.S. Wanna switch?

  6. Well, RR, you'd be wrong. Customer Service is a concept not known to most former European monopolies, be they Deutsche Telekom or Electricité de France. I've been blown away by how helpful American institutions have been when I ran into snags.

  7. Ed, I'd like to circulate the link to the petition to get more people to sign, but when i click on the link within your post above, i get to a site that expects me to register in order to create a petition... which doesn't seem right. I was expecting to find myself on YOUR petition's page, with a "sign here" box... am I doing something wrong, or is there a different link you could post?


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