frustration

“A Round Hairbrush” or “Why France Will Never Advance”

All I wanted was a round hairbrush.

All I wanted was to lock the door behind me, walk my happy self to my nearest Carrefour, and shove money in their faces in exchange for a nice, round, overpriced hairbrush.

But it’s Sunday, and as we all know, Sunday is the day of rest.

I have no problem with this, except the French will take on any excuse to not work, and I’m not exaggerating.
For example, France prides itself as a secular nation. On Friday, however, it was a national holiday because it was the Day of the Ascension. Furthermore, Monday is a “banking Monday”, so I will not be finalizing the last details for my bank account because, hey! Banks are closed.

Today, the damn supermarket is closed.

A round hairbrush.

Readjusting to Parisian life has been a little hard in some aspects. I am very happy to drink good coffee, walk down narrow alleys with charming façades, have picnics on the banks of the Seine. But when it comes to everyday things, some stuff is just really annoying, like having to argue every single little thing, or having people scoff when you ask them to do something they are supposed to do anyway (I’m talking to you “information” guy at CDG International who rolled your eyes up at me when I said bonjour).

When I went to one of the big, scary Tribunaux last week, to get some attestation for whatever weird paper the government loves to ask for. The office reminded me of some Harry Potter scene: there were two ladies, drowning in piles and piles of papers and files. They had just started doing an online service, but of course, the system is faulty and full of bugs and the turnaround time is about 30 years, give or take. The lady kept on complaining to the people in line that the internet was ruining things- that no demands should be made online…and because it’s France, no one cares. It’s this collective “IDGAF” from both sides that, at a micro level, is not letting France have a more logical and seamless system. Administration here is, most of the time, inefficient and retrograde. The old school refuses to embrace change, impeding and blocking new, less complicated approaches. The descaro is never hidden: they are proud of screwing others over, it seems. They are too afraid of not getting to scoff or argue with clients.

Anyway, when my turn came, Lady #2 behind the counter was at a loss because she could not find the name of the city I was born in (Caracas). After repeatedly pointing it out on the translated Birth Certificate (that cost me 249 euros) she ended up putting “Santiago de León”.

I mean, technically it’s right- Santiago de León is the name of the hospital.

Santiago de León and a round hairbrush.

The cherry on top, though, came the day I went to open a bank account and I ended up in an office with two French people arguing in front of me in very heated tones. Sandwiched between the two, I wanted to melt in my seat from the awkwardness. 
Bank of America may steal my money from time to time, but they don’t call me names… at least not to my face.
I walked out with neither a bank account nor the hope of one, because…welp! It’s France!

Frustrated from my experience at the bank, I decided I wanted breakfast and stopped at a little Bistro to get me some good coffee and bread. It was empty, and the second my ass touched the chair, the nice lady behind the counter told me I could not sit there.
I looked at her, bewildered- there wasn’t a single person there, but I could not sit where I wanted.

A round hairbrush on a Sunday.

La queue

“Il faut faire la queue!”
La que?
La queue!
Stand in line! In an orderly fashion! Wait your turn!

Except we’re in France.

And it’s more like “Allez! Let’s all clusterfuck!”

Remember when you were in school and people would cut the lunch line? There really are fewer things that peeve me as much as that. The hoodrats in my suburbian school where houses went for half a millino dollars (or around it, you know, we keep it classy) would love to cut as they stole juice pouches or milk cartons.

I guess they did make it far enough. I remember this girl who made it all the way to the top of the industry- from home video to porn star. And she was that big cutter.

But back to the point at hand.

People in France have this love for cutting lines. It’s as if they’re allergic, or against their nature, to stand behind a person in an orderly fashion. It’s the big n’importe quoi and all of us just gotta deal with it.

Sometimes it’s the very subtle sneak-to-the-front that was so good, so smooth that you’re just like “Well, I guess I deserved it…” and then you let it go.

Sometimes, it’s the shoulder dance where they sort of just…push you a little here, wiggle a little there and bam! After putting a little resistance you just drop it.
Then it escalates.
You wait for the people to get off the wagons, and this trick just comes from out of nowhere and pushes you out of the way. And that’s when you get that instinct à la Mean Girls and you just wanna pounce back. And that’s how most fights are started in the métro.

Oh, and did I mention they do this with a straight face? Like it’s all kosher?

Yesterday I was making my way across town and as I changed lines in the wonderful Charles de Gaulle-Étoile station, someone decided to jump onto the tracks (remember what I mentioned about the microphone on a previous post? “Accident grave de voyageur” will ruin your night. Sometimes your life).

So, anyway, there’s a huge crowd in a tiny platform because the service has been interrupted and we’re all hopelessly waiting there because there is nowhere else to go. I am towards the back and this girl decides she wants to be first to get onto the imaginary train that was going to never going to pick us up. So she shoved her way to the front.

I SEE YOU, GIRL. I SEE YOU.

I SEE YOU, GIRL. I SEE YOU.

All aboard the magic bus, bitch because that train ain’t gone show up for the next fifteen minutes. But I see you’re ready.

She was elbowed away by someone else when the train FINALLY came. Ha.

It’s like that panic that people feel when boarding a plane. Regardless of the fact that there is a seat assigned to you, and that in order to miss a flight you have to not even be at the airport at departure time, people push up and create a blob of carry-on luggage and humanity by the gate. Relax, darling. You’ll be a chair in the sky anyway!

Also, a simple trip to the supermarket might suddenly go south.

I’m behind a girl who is about to pay and I hear this commotion behind me and bam! Someone decides to place two beer cans in front of her. Some other man comes behind me, as if he’s trying to save the day: “Hey! Before cutting you have to ask the people to see if they’re ok with it!”
Because you were going to get in line anyway, right?
Whatever. I’m not stupid.
So the savior turns to me, with a ratchet smile and was all “Do you mind if I go in front of you? We only have two beers!”.
“Well, there’s a line for 10 articles or less. What if I say it’s not ok?”
And then, I get the murderous look.
They chose this line because they saw two girls. Two lone females who surely would not put up a fight.
I realize what is going on and was about to fly into a rage because I felt so hopeless. A simple little thing like respecting people in line, something so basic, they can’t do.
It’s like…seriously, bro? Where in your DNA is it encoded so we may pull that bit out? Also, while we’re at it, I’d fix your face because it’s so butt-fucking ugly.

No one complained. No one did anything. Not even the cashier.
Welcome to the world of cultural differences. Don’t die of a coronary malfunction set on by ire.
All in the bordel that is organized chaos.