Sunday, December 25, 2011

peeling back the onion

Annabelle is home this week and next, for Christmas break.  Naud’s time off starts Friday, so I’m running in the wee hours before he leaves for work.  I like it.  Many mornings, it’s still dark when I leave the apartment.  It’s quiet in the streets and I feel as though I’m waking up with the city.   

sunrise tuileries  here comes the sun

On Monday, I awoke to find that the streets of Paris had frozen overnight.  When I left on my run, it was 29 degrees outside (Naud keeps telling me that I need to learn Celsius now that I’m in France).  I was dressed for the weather but soon found myself slipping and sliding down the sidewalks and across the bridge over the Seine.  Fortunately, Jardin de Tuileries has numerous sand covered paths where I could run with relative ease.  

morning at tuileries sunrise at jardin des tuileries

I’m still playing tourist on these runs, stopping frequently to capture some thing or other that I find truly remarkable.  The views from the Tuileries are breathtaking and Monday morning was no exception, with cold clear skies and a watercolor sunrise.  The neighboring Louvre was bathed in sumptuous pink light as I exited the gardens and headed home.

louvre sunrise 
early morning at the louvre

My tourist French is quickly losing its charm.  I figured I could wear it like a trainee badge for as long as necessary but it’s already wearing thin when I need it most.

For about a week, I had a bag sitting by the front door with a couple of items I’d bought at a children’s clothing store and needed to return.  When I purchased the clothes, I had asked about returns with a little help from an English-speaking customer.  I was certain they had said both exchanges and refunds were possible.  Of course, this was not the case.

Baffling was the fact that the store in question was not a boutique, but a well-known French brand with international locations.  Despite this, they kindly but firmly explained that refunds were impossible because their computer wouldn’t let them do it.  Aha.  The ‘technology is to blame’ catchall never fails.  After an hour of back and forth with several failed attempts to find suitable alternatives, it was suggested that I waltz on out with my existing purchases and try another location for my exchange.  In other words, I left with my return items in hand.

If only I could have explained myself instead of smiling and nodding and sputtering in sub-par French which prompted the saleswoman to remark in perfect English that she had never heard an accent quite like mine.  This after she had failed to speak of word of English for the first half hour.

After my easy breezy return at Le Bon Marche, I was under that assumption that annoying returns were a thing of the past.   Au contraire!  The aggravating French return is alive and well.  On the plus side, the customer service wasn’t half bad.  They still tell you you’re wrong, but at least they say it a smile. 

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