Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm back from Germany, but am now en déplacement in the Loire Valley again for work. Some months it just never ends. After a 3:30am wake-up call Monday and a 5:30am wake-up call today and tomorrow, it goes without saying that I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend. Things are going very well work-wise though, so at least there's that.

I spent the day today with a bunch of 50 year old men and of course got the usual jokes about women working in a technical field (Watch out, she's wielding a screw driver), plus the typical "Americans only eat at McDonald's" cracks. I actually pulled out a tidbit I learned last week, ie that the French are the world's biggest spenders at McDonald's ($15 per visit vs $4 in the US), and that they are the second biggest consumers of it after the Americans....and they have about 1/5 the population of the US. I had to laugh as it left all five of them speechless for a second - which doesn't happen often in this country. 4 out of the 5 then admitted that they really liked Macdo, but the other - and this is my favorite bit - said that he didn't because they didn't have any forks or knives and he thought it was so extremely uncivilized to be eating with ones' hands. LOVE IT - it doesn't get much more French than that.

After work, I went to check into my hotel. With all my travels of late, I'd forgotten to book a room until the very last minute, which meant that the two I normally stay at were both fully booked. So I had to go with another one in the next town over. I was telling my 'someone special' how I always get the crankiest receptionists at these places and he said "Well, it's a new hotel, so maybe it will be someone nicer". I didn't have high hopes, but then again, I'm so used to it by now that it doesn't really matter to me either way.

I had a bit of time to kill before dinner, so after checking in, I went to do a bit of shopping. On my way back, I realized that I'd be leaving before they opened, so that I better pay tonight. And also remember to ask for a breakfast tray to be brought up before they left. Which I did, and that's when I witnessed the crise de l'année. You would've thought that I'd asked her to go out to the nearby field, harvest the wheat, turn it into flour and then make me some home-made bread all by 5am.

Oh la la - why didn't you tell me you would be leaving so early when you reserved the room?
Um...because I just found out today.
But how can you expect us to deal with such imprévus? Do you think breakfast grows on trees?
*Confused as to why this is such a big deal*
Tsk tsk. This is really a situation. I don't know how we're going to deal with it. (And on and on and on)

Have gone through this (or very similar) routines a million times before, I now know the best thing to do is to just patiently wait it out. Let them get it all off their chest, and sometimes throw in a word of agreement here or there, to let them know that you get just what a burden you are being on them.

Five long minutes later, it was finally decided that I could pay right then (before I ate dinner - *gasp* - which was btw included as part of my stay so was not any extra). And that she would see what she could put together for me for a breakfast tray. But that shh, I shouldn't tell anyone that she was doing this for me as it really was an exceptionnel occasion.

Honestly. I'm laughing again right now just thinking about it. Some day I will have enough crazy hotel stories to write a book on that subject alone!

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Blogger Jennie said...

hahahah love those facts about MacDo! totally going to use them the next time some ignorant jerk makes fun of Americans.

October 28, 2009 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Anon said...

Hmm. "tellng my someone special" to tell? I do love your writing.

(your) Anon

October 28, 2009 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger DiaryofWhy said...

Yes, like Anon said. All I heard was blah blah Germany, blah blah McDo, "SOMEONE SPECIAL." Especially after the doritos comment of the other day, you know you're not going to get away with that. Internet privacy be damned! 'Fess up already! :)

October 28, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Quantumhollapena said...

OMG,Sam, please do write a book! I'm serious. Go back through all the blogging you've done and just plain and simply compile all the ridiculous encounters you've had in France w/ their lack of "customer service" skills. It's such a big deal for Americans, it's always so hard to believe that it could even happen every time you tell a new story. I tell your stories to my unbelieving friends when I try to explain to them how crazy it is to be treated even decently as a customer in France.

Seriously. A book. Now, get to work!

October 29, 2009 at 2:48 AM  
Blogger jonnifer said...

That reminds me of some former coworkers who recently came to Paris for business. They were working in the hotel meeting room and tried to get room service to bring them food, but the hotel staff balked, acting like they were asking for something really complicated and over the top. I can't remember if they finally succeeded in getting or not but they were all confused by the reaction. Is it just doing something outside the set routine that's so difficult?

October 29, 2009 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Emily Marie said...

I wouldn't say it's just a hotel's a French thing. Everything is just soooooo difficult and it's so much easier to just say no! You are so patient though...this country has made me cold-hearted!

October 29, 2009 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Starman said...

Great idea about writing a book of your French hotel ordeals. I would buy it!

October 29, 2009 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger JChevais said...

And that, in sum, is EXACTLY how you must deal with the French. Just let them freak out and then watch them get a handle and figure out how to deal.


October 30, 2009 at 4:23 PM  

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