Saturday, November 13, 2010


Just an interim post to explain why I'm here so infrequently these days. My phone and Internet service was cut off in mid-October, and since this was the umpteenth time this had happened, I phoned Orange's friendly English-language help line to find out why. 

There is, as I've explained before, a situation called dégroupage totale, where your telecom provider separates you from Orange (the former state monopoly known as France Telecom) and takes total responsibility for the line. I would go to Free and navigate their impossible website (designed by chimpanzees), put up with the frequent need to log back on as I chased my tail in circles, and finally hit upon a page where my account was listed as dégroupage total. Why, then, couldn't I get rid of Orange? So this time I posed as a new customer and found a button to push to determine if I were eligible for dégroupage total, since it varies with the part of town you're in. The answer: no. 

So I really did owe Orange all that money all along! Okay, I'd paid Free, so that was working, so all I had to do was get Orange to turn me back on and I'd be back in business. So I called Orange, they turned me back on, but with a different customer number. "Tell Free you have a new number," they said, "and you should be back on."

So I did and Free told me they no longer wanted my business because my customer number had changed, and I was to send back my router box and so on immediately via registered mail. 

After discussions with people who had also been through this, it emerged that the least bad solution was just to shift my business to Orange. I called them back, had a conversation with one of their support team last Friday, and on Tuesday, my "Livebox" appeared. 

Now, all this time I've been online thanks to the good graces of Chuck and Judi down at the English Corner Shop, holding down a table at one end of the store and meeting a bunch of fascinating people, helping Judi understand what their stock is all about (as an American, she has never had any experience with these products, but as someone who's visited England often, I at least know what they are), and telling every sentient being who walks in that I'm looking for an apartment. 

It's not, however, a situation conducive to sustained concentration, such as even a modest post like this requires, let alone some of the work I need to do. So I have to do that offline at home, then pack up my gear and head into the store, which opens at 1pm. 

This should all work itself out by the end of the week, so that I can go into the store because I want to, not because I have to. 

Meanwhile, there are other crises. Most notably, my kitchen sink no longer drains. It takes about two hours to empty a full sink of water, such as one uses for dishwashing, and I've made use of some noxious chemicals, and then a plunger. This has only resulted in the floor flooding. Thus, two floods a day (wash and rinse), with the rinse taking place in water that's who knows how contaminated with sewage. I say this because the other night, when we had a good, pounding rainstorm, I pulled the plug on the rinse water at 9:30, and there was still a half-sink left when I went to bed at 1am. And boy, you should have seen the floor the next morning.

Thus, I wasn't too upset to bump into my landlord on Wednesday of this week. I told him that I had his rent money, but he still owed me not only the receipts for the back rent I'd paid, but also he had to deal with the plumbing. "I have a plumber," he said, "who I'll call right away. He'll either be at your place around 11 on Friday -- tomorrow is a holiday [it was: Armistice Day, or We Beat Germany Day, depending on your viewpoint] -- or else, since he's going on vacation next week, sometime after a week from Monday." 

Do I even have to tell you he never showed up on Friday? 

I'm not going to spend my life mopping and plunging. I'm going to hire my own plumber and the slumlord (I looked up the French, which is apparently marchand de sommeil, or sleep-merchant, which I love) will pay for it, and that's that. 

And Orange will turn me on by the end of the week or I'll pitch a fit at them. 

After which I'll find a fantastic apartment, move in, and effectively start a new life down here. Or at least that's the current fantasy. I hope it's not too much to ask. Perhaps I should send the Remover of Obstacles another e-mail. 

And now it's off to the store. Which is closed on Sundays and Mondays, unfortunately. Of course, Orange could turn me on on Monday. But do you honestly think they will? 


  1. I like the "unbearable excitement" tag! And "the french": LOL!

  2. I doubt it. It has taken me since Aug to get my Orange line disconnected. This, after sending three letters to them, finally realizing that registered is the only way to make sure they at least read it!

    When you are free and clear and have your own apartment, think about Darty Box maybe. 33 euros a month for a fiber optic line (but depends on where you live) AND free unlimited calls to N. America (and Japan for Shoko).

    Good luck. Nice to finally click on the blog and see a new post.

  3. Another Walter Benjamin/Joseph Roth moment. it's uncanny.

  4. Don't MacDonald's do wifi?

    Good luck with the flat hunting, I know just what sort of a nightmare that is!!

    Fingers crossed for Orange too!

  5. Hello Ed Ward,
    I have just become a follower of your Blog. I am Judi's Sister(English Corner Shop)
    Good to glean some knowledge of the area my sister is living in.
    Thank you for your help with Judi's adjustment to running the English Corner Shop. The family here appreciates your efforts.


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