Welcome to my world! My name's Nik, and I'm a British expatriate who has been living in Paris, France for the last five years. Even though I never planned to stay in Paris for very long, now I'm here I've no plans to leave soon - the beauty of Paris has never worn off, and so far it's been a five year long vacation! Enjoy my ramblings...

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Gladitorial queuing

Still no Turkey photos uploaded yet, as I've managed to lose the USB lead to my camera. I think it was designed to vanish the moment you need it, so I'm currently trying to pretend I don't need it right now, in the hope that it will appear in an attempt to get in the way of something else I really need. So far it's not working, so I think I've got to try harder at needing something else. The trouble is it has to be something that I don't know where it is, and all the crap stuff I don't really need is crowding out all my desktop and kitchen space at the moment.

I had a 'run around chip away at the endless to-do list' day today. Unfortunately one of the to-do's was to take back a modem and TV cable set to a France Telecom office, and anyone who lives here knows that's definitely a real soul sucking experience. Today was no different of course. I entered the office and was quite pleased to see that there were three assistants (all occupied with people), and only one old guy waiting. FT assistants have their own little podiums, and the concept of queuing doesn't really apply here. They even place the podiums at the far corners of the room, so that while hovering for the next assistant to be available, you're free to browse the mobile phones and glare venemously at the other people waiting in case they dive onto the next free assistant before you can.

This is aggravated by the fact that once someone has got their teeth into an assistant, they either berate them for hours about the excess 22 centimes on their account, or try and enquire whether a phone is better if it's red or black even though they'd prefer the model that's not in stock or even in existance for the last 10 years. So, in summary, you wait for hours and are prepared to kill when it's your turn for the next assistant.

It got close to my go, and as the assistant finished up with his client (a protracted purchase of a satellite box that required a middle-east peace contract to be drawn up), he suddenly dashed into the back. Suddenly and furtively, practically a dive followed by a commando crawl. By this time the office had filled with about 10 people, all clutching bills, 1€ offers and assorted weapons. In response to someone growling somewhere, another assistant said that he'd gone to lunch. The crowd started to unrest uneasily.

I carried on waiting, having only been jumped in the queue once (pretty good going), when the remaining assistant became free (did I say there were three assistants at the start? Apparently ducking and diving is part of the staff training). Someone clutching a 5€ discount off mobile phones leapt on him and starting gabbling away, so I charged over with big excusez-moi's and big waving of the modem and bits and pieces, which were considerably more heavy than the little voucher he was waving at me. He backed down and I beat my chest in triumph.

Finally it was over, and I walked out of the shop wondering if it was still Monday...


My hubs works at FT, so at certain locations (where I know the staff) I get moderately better service. It still ain't stellar though.

I remember one time, there were a number of assistants that disappeared (including the one helping me), leaving one assistant for a line that started curling around the block.

One person loudly complained. The woman, cool as a cucumber said, "You see that phone over there? Five euros says that if you call 1014, you'll end up with someone that can help you right away."

He used the phone. When he went to leave, she yelled out, "And my five euros?..."

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