Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, March 13, 2009

I was watching the news last night, and they were talking about the various ways the "crise économique" was having an effect on the Frenchies. Times are obviously tough for a lot of people, and it means that petty crimes are rising by the day (they're up 90% en Bretagne!). People are walking out of stores with items, leaving restaurants without paying, driving away from gas stations after filling up, etc. They interviewed the owner of a very busy café not too far from where I live, and he said the number of people who run off without paying has gone up incredibly. He joked that he was going to start making his waiters wear tennis shoes so they could run after them, instead of the fancy dress shoes they currently wear.

Which made me start to think about how easy it would be to leave without paying in so many places in this country. I've been to that café several times, and it's always packed. It takes ages to get served, but it also takes ages for the server come back around and pick up the check. Considering how busy it is, it'd be so easy to just get up and walk away - they wouldn't notice for at least several minutes. And even in Paris, there are still a lot of places with no video surveillance.

They also interviewed a hotel receptionist who gave the example of a couple who had stayed there for a week, and then left without paying. It's true that with a lot of French hotels, you pay upon check-out, not check-in like in the US. A lot of the smaller ones don't even ask for your credit card number upon arrival. That happened to me last week in Bordeaux - I walked out with my suitcase in the morning and gave my key to the receptionist, and she looked up, said "Bon voyage" and then looked back down at her paperwork. I could've so easily just said "Thanks" and walked right on out, leaving her with no way to contact me.

And then today's news covered the rise in armed robberies in France, mostly taking place at small mom & pop stores, ie the ones least likely to have security cameras or guards. The robbers weren't ever getting away with large amounts of money - mostly 100€ give or take - but it hasn't stopped the number of them from rising within the past few months.

I don't know what the point of this post is - I guess I just found it sad that so many people feel that they have no other choice but to steal. This new "times are tough" crime is most often commited by parents trying to provide for their families. Either way, it makes me all the more grateful that I have a steady income and a stable job.

Even if it does cause me minor freak-outs from time to time (more on that tomorrow).



Blogger Megan said...

Hmm, yes I guess in some ways they are more trusting in the US. But then it annoys me when I go to a grocery store and they ask to look in my grocery bag as I go through, to be sure I put everything on the belt.
But still, at cafes, it's not like you NEED a cappuccino in order to live and have no other choice but to order it, drink it, and walk off without paying. Don't have money to pay for one? Don't order one. Seriously.

March 14, 2009 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Milk Jam said...

I have really seen the increase in petty crimes out here. When I walk to the train station almost every other day is a headline on those sidewalk stand newspaper thingys (you know what i'm talking about) that says this or that town had a burglary and they got away with 124e or something little like that - probably caused a lot of expensive damage in the process... MG says that theft in mom & pop shops (all we have in V-Town really) is totally on the rise.

desperate times but I agree with megan - coffee is a necessary part of life hehe (as I drink mine now) but not something you need to steal from a cafe to survive! honestly. or hotel rooms, don't have money for vacation? don't go on one! invite yourself to a friend's house! lol

March 14, 2009 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger wcs said...

At the gas stations I go to (read: cheap hypermarché stations) you can't really drive off without paying. The exit from the pumps funnels down to one lane at a little booth where you pay.

Except for the 24/7 pumps where you need to pay by card before you get the gas.

I guess if one is going to steal gas, one would prefer to steal from the brand-name stations anyway, right? ;)

March 14, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad that lovely, trusting France is following in the footsteps of already suspicious cultures; England and the US.

I guess this crisis mentality goes along with kids disrespecting teachers and the like.

Sad, sad, sad.

March 14, 2009 at 3:35 PM  

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