Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Maze of Frenchology

It's possible that from as early as birth I have had negative karma when it comes to technology. In my personal fantasyland, I like to think this is because celestial and/or magical beings generally don't interact with the likes of modern contraptions. And really, why would they? If you can do magic, you don't need cell phones or airplanes or computers, and if you are part-goddess than clearly electricity and radio waves and the like simply go haywire as a result of concentrated other worldly energy levels. That being said, as I use many modern devices on a daily basis I have to jump these hurdles and deal with the fact that sometimes technology merely exists to thwart all of my endeavors. For example, I have been without internet access in my apartment for over a week now, something that I find borderline infuriating since I rely on phones and computers for the bulk of my paid work and social communication. Frankly, if it wasn't for the paid work aspect I would probably submit to the universe and take my well-needed time away from the hubbub of cyberspace. Sadly, this is not easily accomplished in the year 2014. 

Add on top of this technological layer cake, the French icing that frequently adds a level of nauseating excess. In other words, NOTHING in France can happen quickly or with apparent ease. About two weeks ago, the girl I was sharing internet with told me she was moving out of the apartment next door so I would have to find a new internet source, but would have about ten days before it stopped. Contrary to normal French custom, the connection actually gave out the following day, giving me no time to get to a store and coordinate my own line. I also asked the girl if I could possibly take over her account, but she responded as if I had suggested sacrilege, so I decided not to push it. I made my way to a local store that was of course undergoing renovations starting THAT DAY. So I found another store not too far off and was halfway through battling French terms when I realized I would need to provide my actual bank account number, not just give my debit card details. I had to come back yet again the next day, at which time I took my internet box home but couldn't have an appointment for the technician to come for another ten days... Exhaaaaaaaaaale... Ok, the man arrived on Friday two HOURS EARLY, expecting me to be home, though I was unavailable at that time. He did manage to come back when my appointment was actually scheduled and did his work, informing me that my internet would finally start up in about two days. I have no idea why it couldn't start immediately but so be it. Needless to say, I received a text message AND an email yesterday, claiming that my internet was activated, but as of this afternoon was still not receiving any connection. Finally, I called the company and struggling through French with a few English words here and there, come to find out that, yes, there is a problem, yes, they will fix it, but it might take another 10 days, and they will contact me if they have to set up another appointment. Basically, I was flung out to sea with some sort of metaphorical life preserver and told they will eventually get around to saving me. 

American companies are equally as frustrating when it comes to appointments and scheduling, but the amount of time that it takes me to accomplish certain goals here in Paris sometimes astounds me. The best part, of course, is that no one else is remotely in a rush. Sense of urgency is not something that exists here, despite this being a major metropolis filled with modern innovations that sometimes completely overshadow what I ever experienced in NYC. I think I had to go to the bank in Paris about 6 times before fully opening my account, but yet it took me approximately 10 minutes to set up my phone plan. And every time I renew my metro card, I look at my sturdy little tag with my picture and signature on it as I swipe into a turnstyle that only goes one way and wait for my train that comes with rapid speed according to the digitalized sign that tells me exactly when it will arrive and I think how lucky I am.

Yes, I do wish that my owl would arrive to take me to Hogwarts so I could abandon modern technology in the name of inherent magical skill that would allow me to exist without such devices. But as I await the arrival of said twilit creature, I shall diligently take deep breaths as I accept that while France is my home, I must yield to the technological twists and turns of this culture.

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