Wednesday, September 28, 2005

muscat ruth


Carpentras was hot and jammed in the midday rush for lunch - Insurance salesmen and shop-owners alike screeching round the ring-road bent on getting a good hour of the wife's poulet basquais, cassoulet or lamb tagine, and wives rushing to prepare. I too had a mission. I was off to Leclerc to COMPLAIN.

A year ago Julian scraped along a concrete barrier in the newlook million euro facelift Leclerc petrol station. The barrier - haut comme trois pommes, as they say, (except in this case it was probably a little shorter but thank you gail for this delectable phrase)- was indicated by a white line and was impossible to see from the driver's seat. Judging by the rainbow of car-coloured graffiti we were clearly not the first victims.

I had pulled a superb provencal rant, ejecting the pasty 'responsable' out of her anonymous floral product-smelling office into the driver's seat of our car. Then I had asked her if she could see the white line. She had said no and, as if at last being able to confide in someone, had practically sobbed to me that the whole thing was a crap design.

The next day bright orange party bollards appeared on the concrete shoulders and a week later they were upgraded to white ones with silver stripes for extra vision. Clearly Messsrs Leclerc knew they had made a boo-boo.

...but would they admit it to the insurance? NO. We got sweet FA.

Six months later, our car still scarred to the tune of €500 (for who would want to give up twenty years no claims for that?), I wrote a letter. A really good one. I had had no response and I wanted one.

"C'est quoi, votre relation avec vos clients?" I hotly quizzed the new ginger directeur. "We haven't shopped here for a year and we never will again if you don't f...." etc etc, I ranted on. But then something weird happened. I realised he was listening to me and he seemed almost concerned.

Possibly, he might look into it. He was perhaps an exception.

This would never happen in America, where the customer is always right even if they're wrong, or in the UK where they're right if they're right ....what is it about France and customer relations? They haven't got a bloody clue.

Anyway. Point of story being:

All day I have been grappling with the SNCF, Grand Voyageur, Frequence Plus, Axa assurance, Assedic, the npu, the pmnu the punch me in the face, why don't you, and rob me too you f***ing arse cos you clearly couldn't give a damd.... and I have been breathing on the edge of rasping anger.

How to get back to Zen?

Lending my mobile phone to a woman in the post office who was in distress didn't help much. (I just thought how marvellous a person I was and how crap Leclerc were in comparison)

Giving a lift round the ring road to a shopper on foot who had to catch the last post and couldn't run fast enough. (ditto)

Coming home and walking the vine circuit, watching the pickers - brown of limb and bald of head - peeking here and there between the blueblack clusters; the crates full of muscat grapes ready to be loaded on to the little red truck, and feeling the sun sweeten my insides like a grape.....

Yep. That did it.

Muscat Ruth.



Anonymous James said...

wow! Ruth - I should get you to sort out some phone bills for me!! Go get em'.......

2:51 AM  
Blogger Dave said...


Can I borrow the vineyard for next time I get stressed out by contractors, colleagues, beaurocracy (as a "fonctionnaire"? Never!), London...the list is endless. I think I need the whole of the Var...

(returns to lurking)

10:59 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Does knowing how loudly and heartily you made me giggle, right in the middle of the most stressful day of my most stressful week in the work year help? Or knowing how much delicious delight the colour and light in your photos gave me? I hope so!

I just love "America, where the customer is always right even if they're wrong, or in the UK where they're right if they're right"...

You surely don't really HAVE to take on all the villains listed at once, do you?... yes, go and have a drink, the best bottle you can find, and ponder on whether this makes up for French customer service (probably?)

11:33 AM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

This post, through a swift chain of neuron-firing associations, made me think of Muskrat Love by America, a song I haven't heard for ages, do you know it? It'll be running through my head all day now. But that's OK - I like it!

2:20 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

Oh yes Zinnia! muskrat Love is one of my faves and dfinitely the unconcious inspiration for the title! I never knew the group so know prepas I'll try and find it! Yes, Jean, it does help. Always. To know you've cheered up a day - and ub , the ruin next door might be for sale and comes with the vineyard...james, don't lurk, it's nice to have you!

2:30 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

You may regret mentioning about the vineyard next door when you discover I'm a trombonist...

10:47 AM  

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