Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summer Is On Its Way

It was suddenly really miserably hot today. At first it was really nice, and the air reminded me of being on the East Coast over the summer -- which was a pleasant feeling because being on the East Coast over the summer usually means I'm doing fun things. But then I was like, "Wait a minute. It shouldn't be this hot at NINE THIRTY IN THE MORNING", and apparently I was right to be upset because as the day went on it just got more miserable. I got home from going out with my friends at midnight dripping in sweat from the metro ride, and a shower was definitely necessary. 84 degrees, I do not like you. On Sunday it's supposed to be back in the 50s, oy.

On another subject, sometimes I spend my metro rides thinking more than others, and today's thinking, in addition to a long discussion with Nathalie as we rode the metro home tonight, solidified my opinion that there are some things that I really don't like about France. I used to be a little less honest in my opinions, because overall it's a nice country, but I feel like living here for almost 8 months now means that I don't really have to keep some opinions to myself. This all comes back to the customer service issue that I wrote about in a previous blog. It's not that I think the actual customer service is the important thing, but I think it says something about an overall attitude of entitlement. Today's thinking was brought on by me daydreaming about all of the things I wish I could say in bad customer service situations -- but that I can't say in reality because 1. My French isn't good enough to really get my point across and 2. It wouldn't matter anyway. Things like : "Well, I know it's not your fault, but I checked online this morning and that's what the official company website said the price was" or "But NONE of the signs around the store list a minimum price to get the promotion", or "I came by earlier today and you were closed, even though the sign said you should be open. Is there any rhyme or reason to your actual opening hours?" to name a few. In America (also, I realized that I say the more patriotic America in my head rather than United States, which I think France has unconsciously caused me to do), me saying either one of these things would at least get a sympathetic response and mayyybe a discount, but here they don't care because they don't have to.

That's something else I've been wondering about...France is big about revolutions. And they strike about little things all the time. So why haven't the masses stepped up to demand a change in how they're treated on a daily basis?

Nathalie and I were also talking about how there's specific societal rules about when you're supposed to say Bonjour, and she told me that people have given her a hard time when she didn't say it soon enough. I also hate that it's the culture that you're supposed to say it to the person working (followed by a Monsieur or Madame, which is a apparently a necessity) when you enter a small shop. Obviously, I am all for politeness, and in America (there I go again!) it's my default to say hi to the people working when I enter a store. But you know what? I don't have to. And whether we say hello or not here shouldn't make a difference about how we're treated as customers. THAT'S what I don't understand about France's weird that the people who are SPENDING the money are the ones who have to follow these cultural rules. When really it's more logical that the people who work in the stores (and who are trying to gain this money) should be the nice ones, right? Confession: I semi-unconsconsciously decided a while back that while I usually WILL say Bonjour when I enter a store, I really couldn't care less about saying Madame or Monsieur afterwords, so I usually don't, because, at the risk of showing my Americanness, I think it's uneccesary and old-fashioned, and I don't really care what the people working in stores think anymore. I really don't think it's as necessary as people say it is to follow a country's cultural rules if you don't want to.

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