Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What a Morning!

Well, it's been one of those days... already. I'm trying to take it in stride, because in all honesty I should be used to these kinds of Murphy's-Law situations by now, but it still gets to me... Especially when everything seems to run together in a series of mishaps or unexpected baffling moments.

After running out the door, nearly five minutes later than planned -- as usual -- (That plan to turn over a new leaf and really allow myself more time in getting to the train station in the morning has not been working -- wonder why? Maybe because I know I'll never change...), I did still manage to get my train, but only just as the buzzer was ringing and I thought I was going to get trapped between the doors. Nothing new for me, but it still puts the fear of God in me. Which is one of the reasons why I had also recently told myself not to even run or rush anymore, because it simply isn't worth it, not for a train for goodness' sake, even if it means getting to work late. Life is too short and far more valuable...

But anyway, I digress. I got this train, but had to make a change at the next station. Once I arrive there, I know things should go pretty smoothly, which they did. But I have to say, in line with some of my expat friends out there, that there truly is some région parisienne behavior that will remain a mystery to me to the end of my days... Granted, we're all harried and tired, from the start of the day to the end, but some people have longer commutes than others (ahem, Jenn?) and some people have more stressful jobs as well. I can't honestly claim to have either one of those at this point, but of course I like to be able to sit down and rest my feet a bit as much as the next guy. And I'm at that stage where absolutely no one knows that I'm pregnant yet anyway, so it's not as if that would help matters. Although from past experience, and from what people have told me over the years, I know that doesn't tend to faze most commuters anyway. They want that sacred seat, come hell or high water!

This morning's hilarious observation really took the cake, though: as the next train pulled into the station, we all quietly ushered into the train as usual, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed it wasn't all that crowded -- a rarity! Out of the corner of my eye, I caught this one guy, middle-aged, perfectly healthy-looking (although I do realize looks can be deceiving...), literally racing down the train aisle to the only empty seat available. I almost laughed out loud! It was so utterly ridiculous, and yet entirely typical. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I have to admit that I was... It's times like those when I literally want to lean down and say, "Hey buddy, it's all yours! If it's that important to you, please, by my guest -- enjoy that comfortable seat for the next 15 minutes!" But of course I keep my trap shut... Making any commentary is pointless, and not to mention inappropriate, according to the unwritten but perfectly understood Paris commuting "rules".

So having caught the right train, I managed to make it down the Avenue a bit earlier than usual, allowing me just enough time to stop into the local Franprix market to pick up a few necessities -- listen, a girl has to have her snacks and French yogurts nearby, especially when she's constantly hungry! I figured I had just enough time to snatch up a few items, run through the cash register, and still make it to the office by 9:30. That, of course, was a pipedream, and certainly not counting on the behavior, once again, of those around me. Now, when I'm in a hurry, I know I can be a bit of a pain too, but I sincerely try to be respectful of those around me. I stood behind the guy in front of me at the cash register, who was apparently doing his WEEKLY SHOPPING TRIP at the local miniscule Franprix, his shopping cart overflowing with bottles, boxes and pretty much half the shop (I know it's a free country, but STILL). Not only that, but his attitude was incredible -- apparently the gal at the cash register was on her own, the only cashier available, which is not surprising either. They're usually stocking the shelves at that hour of the morning, and are often short-staffed. And, well, they didn't have any plastic bags -- and to be perfectly frank, I think that people should not be surprised by that these days. And if I'm not mistaken, I believe a new law is going to be passed in the next year or so eliminating the distribution of plastic bags in grocery stores -- about time, really (do we really need any more of those environmentally destructive things?!). I try to carry my own shopping bag folded up in my purse at all times, for emergency runs like this (but I do sometimes forget it!), and in la province, anywhere outside of Paris, I know that when you make hefty, major grocery shopping trips, you're expected to bring your own bags and boxes to places like Carrefour and Auchan. I think they still HAVE bags on offer, but you have to pay for them. It's only here in the city that people still expect plastic bags to be overflowing and aplenty. This guy was nasty about it, too -- the fact that there weren't any bags on offer. And so his groceries were piling up at the end of the register, and he was shrugging, expecting someone else to find him a solution, refusing to put his things back in the shopping cart or to step aside for a moment.

At this point, I realized that my arriving-on-time plan was pretty much shot -- I quickly thought to call a colleague to punch in for me (because, yes, that's right -- we have to punch in! And no, I don't work in a factory...hmph), exceptionally, something I don't usually like to do. As the cashier ran my purchases through, I popped them into my own bag, paid quickly, and ran out the door. I did manage to arrive only a few minutes late, but it was ironic that on one of the days that I was actually running early, I still appeared to be late. And then, just after I walked through the office door and prepared to settle into my daily quiet, low-key office routine, one of my bosses sprinted right up to me and proceeded to make a random immediate request (this rarely happens). Of course, entirely normal -- to be expected, right? Yeah, sure, except that I still had my coat on my back and my purse on my shoulder -- I hadn't even had a chance to sit down yet. I looked at her a bit incredulously, nodded my assent, and turned on my computer. It was no problem, an absolutely trivial, small request, but the irony of these kinds of tasks is that my bosses always precede them with "When you have time, will you...?" Instead of saying, "This is kindof urgent..." When I'm fully aware that they pretty much expect it to be done pronto. This lack of communication and straightforwardness (or shall we call it beating around the bush?) irks me, but it's one of the few small pesky aspects of my job, so honestly, I can't complain.

And that brings me to now, a few hours later, quietly assessing the day ahead of me, and hoping that it will speed by so I can enjoy my evening at home with my boy and perhaps a good movie. Oh, except for lunchtime, of course -- I'm lucky enough to have a lunch date with my dear friend Jenn, so of course I'd like for that part to stretch out and last as long as possible (hey, we've got LOTS to talk about)! And at least I won't have to rehash this whole morning all over again -- she'll already know about it! Then again, hold on a sec -- I think her days are a bit busier than mine, so she may only read about it later...

In any case, an "eventful" morning, shall we say -- well, I don't know if I would go that far, but it was certainly more mouvementé than usual!

6 comments:

jchevais said...

I'm on my way over.... so no dear, no need to go over it again. We can talk about all the things I'm curious about re: your trip to the States instead. Hooray:

Jennifer said...

That sounds like an exciting day! Well, to me, the accidental country bumpkin, it is! The most exciting thing that happens in this little village is when a neighbor's goat escapes his yard. People talk about it for weeks. I wish I lived in the city!! But if I did, I'd probably complain about the noise and wish I lived in the country. :)

My goal is to send you the little box I'm preparing by the end of the week. I hope you'll find the things informative and useful. I even have a couple of outfits that Paul never even wore and is too big for already! how time flies...

Penny said...

I'm exhausted just reading that! Hope you had a nice lunch :)

The Late Bloomer said...

Great lunch that was, Jenn-dear! I don't know about you, but that bagel sandwich really hit the spot for me. And I really love that cheesecake. Worth the little splurge every once in a while. Even the potato chips were good...

Jennifer, thanks so much again for your thoughtfulness -- it means so much! No worries, though. Seriously -- I know you have your hands just a WEE BIT full these days! And WOW, outgrowing things ALREADY?! I guess I should really be sure not to get more than only a very few newborn outfits, huh?! (I admit to caving to a few adorable newborn Carter's things in the U.S., perfect for both boys and girls, but I'm going to try to stop now... there isn't much unisex stuff here in France anyway, from what I've seen so far!)

Penny, it was a bit of an exhausting morning, but the rest of the day was fine -- again, it's not usually much to write about, but I just got a kick out of the string of events yesterday morning, and I try to take all that kind of stuff with a sense of humor, whenever possible!

Don't Blame Me, I didn't vote for Bush said...

I have to say that I can totally identify with the whole boss "asking" thing. I had a boss that did that, sweetest lady in the world, but it drove me crazy. Just once I wanted to tell her "no, I don't think that's going to work for me, but thanks for asking" and watch her reaction. I think it would be like when a movie just starts freezing and skipping on the DVD player.

Le Tigre said...

LOL re your wished comment to seat rusher man! Sounds like one of those frantic mornings that start the day off a bit skewed! In an ideal world we would always have time for a coffee and muffin in a clean, heated and lovely cafe before strolling into work.....