Friday, March 24, 2006



The black stormy spring is highlighting the down-side of French life. Beaurocracy is a word like a thundercloud – once inside one is tossed and turned and pissed upon.

Julian made a human mistake: He bought his longed for 20" iMac on a one-click purchase button from the apple site france. Unfortunately, the last card used was my empty French one which had no funds to cover the purchase. Thinking it would be a simple matter (after the substantial charges which I’m sure they licked up with glee) of transferring funds from a credit card, we have found ourselves in the machine of the Société Génerale and all their toffee nosed bank clerks. Having phoned first to check whether or not such a transfer was possible (after all, you never know) and having been told oui oui oui, I trolled along to Carpentras where I was bluntly told by the same moustachioed pride-ball at guichet number two who had confirmed the possibility that very morning that no, it was not possible at all. After telling me I had not been clear on the phone, he looked over and above his à la mode red spectacles and down his nose of a similar wine-swilling hue and said, infront of the entire queue:

“Besides, Madame, you only have thirty euros in your account” (subtext: “Your French is crap, you are broke and you are really not worth talking to”)

Next, having been transferred from the just post teenage woman whose acne has barely disappeared, whose handshake is limp and sweaty and who is in charge of my finances to her ‘Résponsable’ I found that my French was being corrected after two words.

“Je veux transférrer….”
“Je souhiaterai transférrer” she said.


Well that took me down a notch or two and I flustered unusually with the number 99 (four twenty ten nine) for the next five minutes before reclaiming my power and telling her I wanted an apology from both her colleague and from herself for their disrespectful attitude and that I was going to change banks immediately.

To get the rage out of my system, and to prove to all those Ventoux sprinters (or myself) that I was no fair weather jogger after all, I went for a run in the darkness. There I saw a puff of goldfinches explode from a glowering olive grove and a blade of light illumine a cluster of charcoal almonds and their white buds in front of an angry cloud and I remembered that the world was still a ravishing place.

Ps no bikinis allowed in Saint Rémy church.



Blogger CarolinaWren said...

Another beautiful photo today! Thank you for your beautiful photos of France. I have never been to the Old World, so I get much pleasure from seeing your photos and dreaming of a trip to France.

Sorry to hear about your bad bank experience. Glad you turned it into a run.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

you got that right from start to finish! They are exactly the same over here in my neck of the woods called France too!! Oh you make me laugh! "Ce n'est pas possible!" Is said more than smiling!!

4:24 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Oh! (((Ruth)))

Good for you for going for a run and seeing once again the light that shines through the world!

8:31 PM  
Blogger zhoen said...

Miserable bastards. But at least you had the excuse of not being a native speaker. Worse to have one's native language corrected by someone- only they are wrong. I was once told my first name wasn't a real name. And she insisted I spelled it wrong.

4:19 AM  
Blogger granny p said...

The only advantage to Latin bureaucracy is that it can be made funny (as here.) Thanks. Your French sounds better than my Spanish though. And here they don't correct it, merely pass you over to someone who speaks English which is even more insulting. PS. I envy you your goldfinches..

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Asp said...

Ah, it's not just me who has problems with French banks.
When I arrived I opened an account with BNP. Sadly, I don't they ever were satisfied with any proof of where I lived, and thus would never give me a bank card or cheque book. And I'm fairly sure my 'conseiller' was taking advantage of the fact I clearly didn't have a clue what I wanted/needed.
I moved to LCL, who wondered what all the fuss was about, not had the slighest problem with them. Yet...

6:01 PM  

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