Tuesday, May 22, 2018

French Priorities

I'm learning to adjust to the differences in French and American culture, but it does still surprise me every time I run into it. And, it's always a  necessary part of a memoire written about people who move to France. They find it so hard to believe that life is very different.

This morning, I had a list of errands to accomplish. Earl and I had planned to walk to the nearby village together to accomplish them, but he received an email from UPS that our credit cards, the ones that were stolen and cancelled a month ago, would be delivered sometime today before the end of the day, whenever that is. Perhaps we could have safely assumed it wouldn't be from 12-2, the French lunch time, and gone on our errands then, but instead, he decided to stay at the house and wait for the UPS delivery person.
View walking toward town
I headed downtown repeating my list:
Change of address at the post office
Prescription Filled
Find a French doctor who speaks English
Buy some putty
Get keys made
The English library
The bakery

My first stop was the post office. I wanted to give them our names and let them know we would be at this address through December. Since this place serves as a rental, like an AirBnB most of the time, I needed to let them know we'd be receiving mail here.
The metal door was down over the  post office door and two different signs informed visitors that the post office was closed today, except for those who had appointments for Madame xxx. And the other sign said that the post office wouldn't be open until 2:45 on Wednesday.
Now, the regular hours of the post office were on a sign nearby. It's supposed to be open from 9-12 and 1:30-4:30, but it wasn't.
As I was deciphering the sign, the metal door rolled up and an older woman with a cane began to exit. I reached in to help her with the door and the woman behind the counter, Madame xxx rushed over to make sure I understood they were closed. I  nodded and pointed at the sign. I'd be back the next day after 2:45.
As I walked away and the door rolled back down, a Frenchman walked in the direction of the post office, a driving cap on his head and his gray beard trimmed to a point.
"C'est fermer?" he asked, it's closed.
"Yes," I told him in French, "today and tomorrow until 2:45." He made a French raspberry sound with a shrug of his shoulders.
That's how I felt. "What can you do?" I'd be back the next day, I laughed to myself.
I had much more luck at the pharmacy filling my prescription and asking about a doctor so Earl can get his prescription refilled.
Then I went to the nearby papeterie or stationary store, where I could get the latest newspapers and magazines if I wanted, but also some office supplies. I needed putty to put up pictures and props on the wall to entertain the children in my English classes. Luckily, she had some.
I took a shot and asked her about where to have a key made.
Mr. Bricolage, she informed me, which is equivalent to a Home Depot and found in many French towns, technically, outside French towns, nearly two miles away, which is a challenge since we don't have a car any more, but we'd figure it out.
The English library was also closed. I didn't even walk up to the door to see when it would be open, but the bakery was open, so score there. I walked home with a raspberry turnover and a cafe eclair.

Since I got back to quickly, Earl figured he'd ride his bike to the hardware store for the keys. I looked up the directions and saw the warning that the store was preparing to close. Yep, it closes for a two-hour lunch.
Can you imagine Home Depot closing for a two-hour lunch? But that's one of the differences we love about France, they have different priorities. It's one of the things we love, and one of the things that frustrates us.
It just takes some getting used to.

5 comments:

Jeanie said...

Once you get the hang of it you will be the locals to some future Paulita and Earl coming to your town. But I do hope the post office opens soon!

Anonymous said...

Our post office used to open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9-11:30. That was it! And often, I would get there for the tiny window of opportunity, only to discover that even then it was closed "exceptionally." Now we have no post office at all--the mairie sells stamps. OTOH, a pack of stamps lasts forever now that bills are paid online and correspondence is via email.
And yes, almost all shops but big supermarkets close between noon and 2 p.m. Even the big electronics/appliances store Darty closes. Even the huge sporting goods stores close. School lunches are two hours long so kids can go home to eat and nap. Like their parents. It used to drive me nuts but now I use it to my advantage. If I have to go to the supermarket, I do it between noon and 2, when it's empty.

Kiwi said...

Another little surprise that may await you: if you are changing your mailing address from your friend's place in Aix to your new rental, you probably need to bring your checkbook. I can only speak for the Paris experience, but we had to pay (perhaps 30 or 40 euros, I don't remember) to have La Poste register the new address and forward our mail. We could choose to have the mail forwarded for six months or a year. That done, we are now receiving excellent mail service!

Paulita said...

Jeanie, Ha! Yes, this morning I heard a British man asking for stamps and the woman directed him to the post office. I caught up with him to tell him the post office didn't open until this afternoon.
Francetaste, I'll be grateful for the hours the post office is open! Are you saying the Supermarket doesn't close for lunch? Quelle horreur!
Kiwi, Thanks for the warning. I don't know if we need to have anything forwarded, just want to make sure we get mail that is sent to this address -- like our bank cards which we haven't gotten yet from our French bank.

sillygirl said...

I think all this closing and limited hours and lunch+nap help the pace slow down. In the U.S. without any "round-abouts" things rush too much.

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