Doctor Day

Today is knee injection day, and I am strangely emotional. I’m hoping it’s just hormones, but I suspect myself. I am normally very calm about injections -they don’t bother me in he slightest, and there is no danger of me fainting or having a hissy. However, precisely half way through my breakfast this morning, I suddenly realised that this injection is likely to need to pump fluid right under my kneecap, and I was abruptly and sickeningly reminded of a television show I saw once that showed a monstrosity of a needle being used for just such an occasion. My appetite, which positively never leaves me, ever, immediately departed, and I couldn’t eat my lunch either of the times I tried it. Additionally, I am crying at the drop of a hat. I also realised that there is a chance I may be somewhat physically incapacitated after this assault on my kneecap, and working this evening might be difficult, if even possible. While I was dutifully doing my physio exercises, I started imagining what would happen if I couldn’t walk later on. I knew that I would bravely limp my way to work, but also started imagining how upset I was going to be if I had to ask a colleague to go down the stairs for me, and how tired and incapacitated and vulnerable I was going to be -especially in light of Alice having been the biggest bitch imaginable to me again lately for no good reason. I was imagining myself explaining my predicament, and such sympathy did I have for my imaginary future self, that I realised I was ACTUALLY crying!! Lifting my weights, tears streaming down my face!! So there you have it. I was crying over an imaginary knee related meltdown that never materialised.

But evidently my capacity for crying is not restricted to the sadness response -no no!! At the end of my midday shift today, I was preparing my second attempt at lunch and fighting with the microwave. Who intervenes but my oul flower Alice, and starts being extraordinarily and inexplicably nice to me!!!! Non ma cherie (“ma cherie”!!!!), let me show you how to do it, no not like that, it will burn you, here you go pet. WHAT???????? More tears. Like a mad thing. However, the emotions cleared up fine and handy AFTER the trip back in to Dr. Ledivil. The injection was a bit sore, but as I exclaimed to him in surprise, nothing serious. Yes he said, the unparalleled chancer, that is why I suggested it. YOU DIDN’T SUGGEST IT YOU BRASS NECKED BOLLIX!!! I DID!!! Still, the injection is done, and I skipped down the steps with demonstrably no tears in my eyes.

The Unending Tale of Woe: my knee

I finally went to the doctor. A sports doctor -apparently they have such things here -and with great difficulty I gained entry to his fortress. (Behind two locked doors and three sets of stairs -no lift, in a place for sports injuries…) I got embroiled in conversation with a French woman, who over-shared information and started making announcements to the entire waiting room about her hypothyroidism and weight fluctuations. She commented that I have very good French, but I have noticed that the people who say this are generally people who talk so much they don’t realise I have been doing nothing but nodding. But Frenchly, apparently.

I eventually got in to see Dr. Ledivil, who was more interested in talking about drinking Murphy’s and recommending that I open up a franchise of crêperies in Ireland than talking about my knee. After a millisecond of listening to me, he wiggled my knee around, slapped me on the arse and proclaimed it fucked. The knee, not my arse, fortunately. Okay, he said it was compliqué, but that is French doctor speak for ‘fucked’. He tried to send me off with a printout of seven useless exercises and number for ‘his buddy’, a physiotherapist of sorts, but I abruptly stopped him and demanded something stronger. He was aghast that I had routinely been lifting 20kg as part of my physio programme, but was happy to write me a prescription for an injection, the utility of which is under suspicion, but which is worth a shot. (Or two, as it happens, fifteen days apart). ‘Good idea’, he says. Then why didn’t YOU suggest it, doctor? He was even more aghast when I asked whether I should give myself these injections. WHAT? he says. “No I am the doctor here – I give the injections!!” It was a plausible suggestion, to my mind. However, as to the plausibility of his doctorness, I am less sure. And as for his buddy!! I looked him up on the Internet. Now I can’t be certain it is the same person, but Don Corleone below is the first image that came up:

NOTE the name of the website. Now call me over-cautious, but there is no way I am going to risk the well-being of one of my only two knees on a PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER!! Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin. No no Doctor Ledivil, I’ll take your injections and I’ll be on my merry way. In the other direction. As fast as my gammy knee will take me.

Terrible workplace grievances

I have terrible workplace grievances. They are mainly linked to one middle aged woman, who will henceforth be known as The Biggest Bitch in the Whole Wide World. She has developed a most passionate dislike for me, and has stopped even the most basic of courtesies. I’m not attempting to do the two kisses or anything wild like that now, but she no longer even responds when I ask her a question. What have I done to her? The best I can come up with is the day I said yes to her when I didn’t mean yes. I meant, I am not entirely sure what you just said Alice, but I am willing to make a stab at it. I stabbed the wrong thing apparently. However, crucially, I did not stab HER, which I now regret, as she is certainly acting as if I did. “How is your sore foot today Alice?” No response. “How about now, BITCH?” (Bloodied dagger in hand). Not shaking the whipped cream before using it apparently amounts to social suicide in our beloved crêperie. I may be imagining it, but relations have seemed stonier with my other colleagues too. I spend most of my shifts trying to work out how I have insulted them. I never get any answers, but I can only imagine that it is linked to the ongoing errors. Which are copious. I may be a little late on the uptake, but I just discovered that Manuel -or the actor who played him in Fawlty Towers -died exactly a year to the day of when I was blogging about him, so I am afraid to make any more comparisons between myself and fictional characters. (I’ve just realised that going by a recent post, Mel Gibson better watch himself…) But such is life. And death.

My relations with the clients however continue to be good. Although I still panic when people try to make small talk with me. I try to convey good manners with eye movements and smiling brightly, while mutely communicating with the same expression “PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME OR I WILL BE OUSTED!!” Children are the worst -I am actually afraid of them, because I know that they will not understand that I do not speak their language. They also talk very loudly, and loud conversations are the very last thing I want, in the quiet crêperie, for all to judge. So we’re still on smiling and nodding. But there is much more French happening without my noticing it, and I actually feel weird talking in English to people in the crêperie. In fact, that brings me on to another topic -a pickle, that I may or may not have gotten myself into.

Last Friday night, I joined a group that I met through an app on the internet called MeetUp. It’s a great app, and you pick the kinds of things that interest you in your area, and hopefully meet other like minded people. So when I stumbled upon a group in the city called the Have Funners, this sounded like a crowd I wanted to get in with. With some difficulty, I found them at the Christmas markets, and truth be told, it was a roaring success. I met some really great, interesting people, and five of us ended up in the pub together, having a fine old time discussing the links between language and personality. It was fabulous to talk confidently in English and remember that I do in fact have a personality. I love them all and I hope to meet up with them again. But not in a gay way. However, the other morning, I got a notification from the group organiser indicating that he had pressed the ‘good to meet you’ button on the app. I went to press the ‘good to meet you too’ button, and discovered there were many more buttons there for the pressing. These other buttons were inviting me to tell the other people I had met that it was good to meet them, with the simple press of a button. Now being new to the app and unsure of its social protocols, I thought I had better give an old ‘good to meet you’ to everyone I had encountered that evening -especially if it was going to be public news that I had thought it was good to meet some people and not others. However, it has since occurred to me that this is not the done thing, and my intentions may have been misconstrued. Which may or may not have led to a few of them calling in on separate occasions to the crêperie, just for the chats. This may seem like a nice friendly thing to do, but on the first such occasion I got all flustered by several factors. 1. Having a visitor. 2. Not remembering his name. 3. Having loads of customers arrive at that very moment when I was supposed to be manning the bar on my own. And 4. Having to speak in English where I normally speak in French. It felt WEIRD. So perhaps I have accidentally flirted with half the MeetUp group, but in my defense I said it was ‘good to meet’ the women as well! However, none of them have showed up in my place of work. All I can think is thanks be to God the ‘single’ sign wasn’t still up!!!!

Visiting Vercors: being led up the garden path

9:30am

Well it transpires that my incompetence has extended to my personal life as well as my professional life. I got up at 6:30 this morning, and launched myself onto my tired feet at this ungodly hour. I had it on good authority (the weather forecast) that we would have cold temperatures but sunshine today, and I had an ambition to get myself to the mountains. There have been a number of failed attempts so far, previous plans being thwarted by bank holidays, buses, and finding work, but this time I was determined. I had given myself ten minutes leeway, in case I couldn’t find the bus, and was full sure I had left myself with ample wiggle room. However, in my hasty Google planning yesterday, i forgot that everything in France is highly bureacracised, and that to hop on a bus, buy a ticket and GO somewhere would be far too much to hope for. Naturally, office finding and lengthy queuing are in order. So having found the bus for Vercors, and on the second sprint found the ticket office, I stood in the queue until 7:49, watching the monitor telling me that the bus was still at the platform. I had tried the ticket vending machine to no avail, and joined the long queue -ignoring the lady at the empty counter who was clearly only stationed there for celebrities and royalty.  Equally naturally, the bus departed on time, at 7:50 -apparently long waits are only necessary for public services when it is highly inconvenient. Of course I was still in the queue. The wrong one, evidently. If I had paused my panic and read the sign, I would have seen that the queen’s first advisor was in fact the one selling bus tickets, and not train tickets. So I could have made it after all. Je m’énerve. I’m annoying myself. So now I’ve opted for the later time, and have lost all hope of ever finding a mountain without a car. I can SEE them, I just can’t REACH them.

Fail to prepare and all that.. (This plan incidentally was my third option for finding mountains, and nothing is guaranteed even if I get there, as I am awaiting the advice of a tourist office adviser in Vercors to see if such a thing is even possible -the buses generally refuse to take you to the mountains midweek). I am now back home in defeat, waiting for the next bus at 10:10, which is unlikely to leave me with much time for rambling around Vercors. There is a lot of failure associated with finding your pieds in France. Even more with getting your pieds on the montagnes, apparently -even the lady at the bus station told me to get a car. But it doesn’t help when you’re an optimistic ape who doesn’t read signs. Moral of the story? Sleep deprivation doesn’t work kids. It doesn’t matter how many espressos you drink.

But now, having had the time to open Facebook messenger….. Copine alert!!! A message from Karim last night, advising me that it is cold in France (clearly he saw the weather forecast too…) and to mind myself when I go out!! WTAF is going on in his mind???!

10:10am

I am on a bus!!! Who knows where it will take me exactly, but at least I’ve gotten this far..
I realised on the way to the bus station (round 2) that I still feel like I am only pretending to live in France. Even though I now have an apartment, a job, and you never know, maybe in time even a social security number. I run into people I know in the centre-ville, and I have someone possibly trying to seduce me into Islam. It all SOUNDS very much like I live here, but it still feels like I’m only playing a game. Which I am in a way, having run away from reality and kind of joined the circus -which has been a lifelong dream, if you must know. In fact, I’ve just realised that moving to France with a view to climbing up high things (rocks, mountains, whatever) isn’t a million miles away from the career path I chose at age 4, which was to join the circus and be one of the acrobats who climbed the ropes.  Christ, do we decide anything independently? I’ve long suspected that our major life decisions are driven not by rationality, but by an almost pre-conscious force, that is driven by much more primitive instincts and early-life formations. This has in fact been well documented in several prestigious psychology publications, but this proves it for me. My four year old fascination with the blonde lady in the blue sequinned bikini has led me to what many may interpret as an early mid-life crisis! I was always advanced for my age…

10:53am

You will not believe it. For some unspecified reason, the extraordinarily pretty office de tourisme has a special closure for Weds 29th and Thurs 30th November. The curse of the fermature exceptionelle strikes again….

Why France, WHY???? Toujours pareil, always the same, as the friendly bus driver told me. There was a promising looking sign outside with mountain routes, but it seemed to think I had three to six months to spare, not recognising that my last bus home is 6pm this evening, and only suggested routes ranging from 60 to 350km.

 

I took a stroll up through the town for a bit of investigation instead, now that I was there. It was DESERTED. Like, abandoned looking, tumbleweed gently rolling across the empty streets. All it’s missing is a Wild West style saloon, with no one there but a swinging door and a smoking gun. Vercors is clearly a skiing resort, but can’t think what else to do with itself for the rest of the year. Typical French attitude -they have no idea what to do with time off and just go to sleep. So I walked through the village -every shutter in the place closed and the wind whistling through the town -and out the other side. The were a few bedraggled looking signs claiming ‘overture 7/7 jours‘, (open 7 days a week) but this was either wild optimism or blatant lying.

On a whim I went towards the opposing mountains and followed the sound of water. Lo and behold didn’t I find a friendly yellow sign, pointing me to a number of possible walks of varying length!

Success!! Who needs tourist offices!! Actually me. I do. As everyone knows, those yellow signs only ever want to lead you up the garden path -quite literally in this instance; the path started at the back of a few of the shuttered up houses. So up the garden path I went, panting and wincing my way up what seemed to be very steep slopes.

Now I’m a great women for going UP things, with little consideration or thought given to getting back DOWN things. It was only when I turned around, after reaching a wide field with no further  directions (that’s yellow signs for you), that I realised I appeared to have, without noticing, mounted a red ski slope.

Tricksy that was, to pick my way back down.. But I did it. My left knee had an awful lot to say about the matter, but we’ve discussed it and I’ve promised it I will bring it to a physiotherapist before I bring it to another mountain. I also promised it a chocolate crepe with ice cream later, which appeased it no end.

So Vercors was an interesting trip, and the place is very beautiful, particularly in that gorgeous almost ephemeral frosty winter sunshine weather that is best experienced at altitude.

I did succeed in getting a bit of a hike in the mountains, and it wasn’t until I left on the bus that I realised I had stayed in the city almost without exception for a full two months, which is a most unlike me thing to do. Sadly, it looks like I won’t be repeating the experience any time soon, and purchasing a car is a long way off, unless I decide to purchase a set of crutches to go with it. So for now, crepes and ice cream it is.

Fawlty Towers: when fiction becomes fact

It is not that great a source of sadness to me, but I can never again watch Fawlty Towers. I have developed a sudden and powerful empathy with Manuel that I fear can never been reversed. For I am the clumsy, bumbling Manuel of our good creperie.

I can’t explain it, but somehow, when I translated myself into French, I became incompetent. (I must have used Google Translate). The amount of effing mistakes I am making!! It is unforgivable, and whatever about my co-workers, I don’t think I will ever forgive myself. The problem is, these are not mistakes of linguistics, for the most part! They are obvious, no-cop-on errors. Last night I spent many dark moments dejectedly reflecting on the lack of foresight involved in delaying placing an order until people had their aperitifs. Good god, what kind of an idiot am I?? And there are many more. Table placement is another challenge. You can put this down to my limited visual spatial awareness if you will, but for the life of me I cannot seem to seat someone at a table for two without being told that no, I should have put them at a different table.

Now admittedly, there are two aspects to the errors. Or maybe three. The first is that my brain is so busy concentrating on speaking a language that I don’t speak, that once it achieves this it feels proud of itself and decides to put its feet up for the evening. Disoster. And I can only imagine that this is what poor Manuel has been enduring all these years. While being clattered about the head by John Cleese. The second aspect is that I have discovered it is the great hobby of French people to go around correcting other people at every given opportunity. Being told I have done the wrong thing at every single turn (even in the rare occasions it’s not my fault, defending myself seems effortful and pointless), I am reminded of a book I read before I came here. It was written by an English woman who moved to Paris, and was utterly miserable, and even though she was not emulating incompetent fictional Spanish waiters, she was worn out from people stopping her in the street and chastising her. Genuinely, all the time -she was told she was using the lift wrong, walking around the park wrong, and I remember she reported that one woman gave out to her for having the wrong kind of coat on her son. So maybe there is an aspect of that going on as well. They all seem to have a touch of the Mrs. G.s, and her rigid patterns for cutlery arrangement. The third possibility of course, is that I am useless. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that I have had many, many, MANY jobs, most of which I have been reasonably good at (with the possible exception of lying to landlords on the phone and telling them that our company had prospective tenants for them -this was not my strong point, no no). BUT I am getting better. Soon I will remember the importance of rinsing the plates when Brigitte is there, but Not when Alice is there, and of leaving the bucket IN the sink instead of BESIDE the sink for the person who opens in the morning. But only when it is Jeannette, Jackie is more flexible about such things. Aaargh. However, all has recently been forgiven by all of the above, because my work colleagues have realised that for some reason or another, I get lots of tips! Which is a great advantage when all the tips are divided between everyone, and has increased my popularity exponentially. Maybe the customers feel sorry for me, but maybe it is just that I am smiling at people and trying very hard to do what they ask. In other words, I am not French..

On a linked but separate note, I have made a new and dangerous discovery: Espressos. A little shot of alertness and happiness, that I thought I could never get used to, but OH. I’m still not mad about the taste, but who gives a rats arse about the taste?!!!! Indeed, rats arses may not be a million miles from said taste, but it can be sweetened with a tiny drop of milk. But the HIT!! Heart racing happiness!! In a cup! Everyone else in work was downing them goodo, so I thought to myself that I’d get in on the action. I love working in a place where basically mainlining performance enhancing substances is par for the course. Who needs sleep, I hear you exclaim? Not I! Which is for the best, because I may never again be blessed with its mercy… Still, I love them. And I plan to continue in this vein. Putting it directly into my veins, if necessary. But I promise to keep you updated if it gets to this, so that a low level intervention can be staged. But people of France be warned: there is a jittery waitress at large, whose eyes are popping out of her head, and who will refuse to give you Un Déca.

So now that I’ve imbibed three in rapid succession, to get me through the lunch hour, I’ve suddenly remembered the text message I got last night… “Coucou Sarah, ça va ?” It was Karim. Messaging from Tunisia. I assumed he was checking if his parcels had arrived, but he did not seem overly interested in my reports regarding same. No, he was messaging to see how I was, and did I want something from Tunisia? Like WHAT, exactly???? This made me very uncomfortable. Was he offering to bring me a present? And wanting me to ask for it?? QUESTION MARK!!! This chancer better not start thinking I am one of his copines, or he will find himself very violently disabused of the notion..

The Dancing Debacle. Spectacle. Failacle.

The Dancing Debacle. Spectacle. Spectacular mortification and ultimate failacle.
I tried the swing dancing business last Friday night. I went along, as instructed by the Internet, to a soirée in which debutants were apparently welcome, and apparently free. They were neither. Not only did you have to be enrolled in a course already, but you also had to have learned something at this course. None of which I knew, in advance of being the first person invited to dance, before the whole thing had really started. Or started at all, in fact. So I agreed, forewarning the man of course, that I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, and I just followed him around the floor, putting my feet slowly into different positions that I thought could pass as dancing. Later observations revealed that they could not. AT ALL. In front of Everyone. After we stopped this ridiculous walk around the floor, and a few more songs had passed (floor empty), the whole thing suddenly kicked off, and I realised what I was in fact supposed to have done in the first instance. In front of Everyone. It was a bad one. One or two late comers (who hadn’t seen my original performance) invited me to dance, but soon gave it up as a bad job. It didn’t take them long to spot that I was not going to quickly pick up the motor planning of ‘step step triple step reverse’. So after about a half an hour of hiding behind a pillar and a large glass of Orangina, I slunk off, defeated and debited to the tune of fourteen euro. They also informed me that no courses are available until January -despite having happily taken my €10 registration fee -and further Internet research suggested that no beginners courses will be running on my days off. I wrote what I thought was a friendly email explaining my situation and asking them if there was any chance they could fit me into the class that started two weeks ago, but got a prompt and abrupt response telling me that the course was already FULL and to look on the Internet for January classes. A big f**k off if ever I heard one. Bastards. I didn’t like them anyway. Okay that’s lies -I was completely taken by them and very badly want to be part of their gang, but for now I am sulking with them. And I have deleted their page from my Google history, in an act of private mutiny. About which they will never know, but if they change their minds about Thursday night courses in 2017, I might be glad of the covert nature of my vengeance. (Sock it to them Sarah. Just make sure they don’t know about it…)

Karim is not a morning person….

Karim simply cannot get his head around why someone who isn’t working until 11:30 would even consider getting out of bed before that, let alone at 8:30. Which in my head is late, but in Karim’s is an abomination of industry. He spends most mornings snoozing or grunting sleepily around the apartment. I know better than to try and talk to him at such times -I have good experience with a best friend and a brother who are equally terrifying in the mornings. But he soon livens up, and is a great man for sharing information about his varied and chequered love life. He also likes to ask very personal questions, like as to whether I have ever been pregnant. But mainly the questions centre around what in God’s earth (or Allah’s) I could find to be doing three hours before work.

It seems that sleeping is a great hobby among the waiters and waitresses of France, and my work colleagues also seem to spend a great deal of time engaging in same when they are off. One of them, like Karim, tells me that he doesn’t really like having days off, because he is bored and has nothing to do, except watch the start of movies and fall asleep. I did somewhat idolise the famed lack of industriousness of the French, but I didn’t expect it to extend to their social lives. But it makes sense I guess. This particular work colleague has worked in the crêperie for a mere three years and has no aspirations to go back to his original career. He is single, but apparently so are all the rest of us who work there. The boss is threatening to put a sign on la fenêtre, announcing that all staff are 100% single. Now I liked Amsterdam and all, but I do draw the line at being advertised in a window.

So today I FINALLY got my bank card. Apparently it was sitting in my account in the university waiting for me to collect it. However, no one was about to tell me this. Or if they did I didn’t know it. Still, step one accomplished. (I have attempted online registration but that was apparently a step too far and they have blocked my account until tomorrow, for security reasons). Next step -commence attempts to secure a carte vitale. I’m told this can take up to 11 months, and no amount of stamping and shouting will change this. Karim apparently tried crying but that didn’t work either. It’s tomorrow’s mission. Tomorrow will be my first day off in 9 days, and I’m looking forward to it. However, had I known I was going to get to go on the tram to the university bank today, I would have been looking forward to that as well, so it seems I’m easily pleased. #trams4life

These boots are made for… searching

PM, Centre-ville

I have decided on the boots. I discussed it with myself, and we jointly decided to spend €75 on a good sturdy pair of Riekers, which I previously tried on in the Rieker shop. However, the shop is lost. Naturally, last week in the rain, I confidently left the place with the air of someone with a sense of direction, but now, it is nowhere to be found. I started by circling the centre-ville at random, pacing oddly angled street after oddly angled street. This having failed spectacularly, I have resorted to spinning around on a street corner and wailing. It’s not working either, but several people have put money in my hat.

On a separate topic -socialising. Or dodging it, as the case may be…. Following yet another Gabriela invite, I asked, out of nothing but politeness, how was the day in Lyon?

She sent me THIRTY THREE photos. I shit you not.

An hour later

So it turns out that there is a whole other side of the town that I completely forgot about. It’s big. And commercial. And the shop was 4.7 seconds from my street corner. But sadly, quite closed, like everything else, apparently at all times in France. It’s lunch time, and they are obviously off eating Nutella and smoking fags, when I want them to be standing here and selling me boots -which are slightly more masculine and biker-ish than I remember, but have you ever met a biker with cold feet, I ask you? No you have not.

Sure I speak French, but please God don’t ask me a question

I heard somewhere, sometime, that if you do everything within your power to achieve a goal, the universe will provide. Now read into that what you will, but today the universe provided me with a bona fide job in a bona fide crêperie. Do you remember the crêperie that I was lusting after before Amsterdam? The very one that got me off my ass and to a computer to steal a CV from the Internet?? Well they hired me. Proving that copyright laws are made to be broken. I had a trial run from 11:30 to 14:00 today, and they are happy to keep me on! Delira avec mon staighre, so I ham.

As an aside, Karim has recently started using a landline, with a handset he borrowed from the 1980s, which he has inexplicably set to “loudspeaker”. At this very moment, there is a woman, who I can only assume is related to him, shrieking loudly at him in Arabic. Life is mad.

As for my previous colocataire, Mrs. G, didn’t she show up in the crêperie today!!! Randomly, with her friend that I had met before! However although I am now getting more skilled at showing people to their tables and asking if they would like “autres choses”, my social skills en français are a bit below par, and between that and the first-day-nerves I was struck quite dumb and barely got past beaming and bonjouring. But it’s a winning mix that, I reckon I can’t go wrong. However, I absolutely cannot initiate doing the 2 kisses, the ‘bises’, and Karim has warned me that people will think I’m weird if I don’t do them. Mrs. G’s friend was indeed looking at me very strangely, but I can’t imagine that lurching at her with my face would have made the situation any better. However, I followed up this encounter by showing off to Everyone in the Crêperie that I knew a Person -yes a Person -in their lovely city. I think they all doubted my French when I tried to explain that I had lived with this woman for a month. I can see how from the outside this may seem like the ramblings of a babbling foreigner, but I spoke truth! There is a very small but visible mark on the refrigerator in her apartment to prove it.

The crêperie staff seem very nice so far anyway, although they have all evidently worked there since the beginning of time. The other waitress who was on with me today has been there 15 years, while her mother, in the kitchen, has been there 18 years. The Breton man who owns the place doesn’t look quite old enough to have supported such long-term employment -and I had a good look at him to verify this, as he tends to stand uncomfortably close and looks me overly sincerely in the eyes. However, it must be so. He speaks in a nice low voice and I don’t think I made too many mistakes today. He said it was clear that I had worked as a waitress before (he does not need to know that this was a good 16 years ago) and the other waitress, whose name I will remember tomorrow I hope, said my French was very good. As long as Karim doesn’t show up in the restaurant, with his smirking at my stuttering (considerably increasing said stuttering, I might add) my cover will not be blown. There was a lady in the wash up who insisted I was ‘piquing’ her fingers by putting the cutlery in the basin the wrong way up (which I most certainly WAS NOT), but these people are bound to be there too. She told me in one instance not to scrape the plates as she would be left with nothing to do, but later came to me demanding to know the meaning of an unscraped plate. What can I do?? She was generally nice and friendly all the same. It’s a tiny team of people, but so far I like it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating my employment by spending all my imaginary future wages on jeans and jumpers. No I still haven’t bought the boots. But the rain has stopped you see. I don’t need them now. Not as much as I need more flimsy shirts with birds on them anyway. (I can already see the next blog forming in the distance…. It will take the shape of a seven-versed lament bemoaning the inability of flimsy patterned shirts to keep your feet warm…)

So the great advantages of employment: 1. I don’t have to worry about being income-less, and can finally stop beating myself up for wasting money on the wrong sized bin bags and a fancy folder with eight multicoloured pockets. (Actually that’s not true, it was €12.99 and I’m still ashamed of myself. I told myself it was in lieu of a filing cabinet, but if I had gone to IKEA first I could have probably BOUGHT a filing cabinet with my €12.99). But I have felt a great sense of ease and relaxation, to know that I don’t have to agonise over buying every cup of coffee. It’s a good feeling. 2. I HAVE A PURPOSE IN LIFE AGAIN!! That purpose may take the shape of rapidly serving crêpes and galettes to homesick Bretons, but it beats hanging around the apartment watching Netflix and traipsing the town en cherchant un emploi. And purposes is purposes. 3. Hopefully, this job will be a way to keep improving my French, and I don’t have to worry about having no French outlet when Karim goes on his holidays to start up his somewhat shady gaming studio in Tunisia. (Yes, life is mad, but more on Karim at a later stage). 4. I really like being a waitress. This place looks like it could get really busy too, and I love that feeling of having all the balls in the air. 5. I can start building things into my free time on regular basis soon, when I know my regular timetable. For example I can sign up to classes, and plan activities. My free time has also actually become free time, rather than work-searching and life-organising time, which will be nice. 5. IT IS MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I wanted to come to France, learn some French and find some work, and so far I have come to France, learned some French, and found some work! Keeping said work might be another story, but apparently if you can behave yourself for two months here they’ll give you a permanent contract, the eejits. That, however, brings me to the disadvantages of being employed: 1. I don’t know how they are going to feel about the fact that after just 6 weeks of work, I am planning to skip off home to Ireland for a week and a half. That could jeopardise the old contract quite nicely. Not sure when best to broach this topic, but probably not in the first few days anyway. 2. The nature of this work leaves me with very little free time in the evenings, which limits opportunities for expanding my circle of friends here. BUT there must be plenty people working in the service industry, who find ways to socialise and do sports. We can see… 3. No i don’t really have a number 3. All in all, happy out!!

I ate some chocolate too to celebrate. And as a we’re on the topic of chocolate, I might as well get it out of my system. It is only now that I am willing to admit to what happened on the night of Saturday 4th November, when I got independently and stociously drunk, and ate probably a half a kilogram of dark chocolate. It was a bad one. But now that I’ve confessed, I feel better.

That reminds me, I had another interview this morning as well, in a chocolaterie. The lady said she had already hired someone for the position advertised, but that she liked hiring foreigners (what kind of a thing to say is that??!) and might give me a call. However I think I blew it on the way out the door, when I refused the chocolate she offered me. This may have come across as lack of interest, but should actually have been interpreted as fear. I really just wanted to get out of there before anyone asked me a question. Questions=very scary. Even the simplest ones are always encrypted in some form of native jargon that renders them incomprehensible, and the general result is massive shame, especially when you realise they have just asked you what your name is. It’s tough, pretending your way through France, but evidently, so far it’s working!! Continue reading

It’s not supposed to rain in FRANCE

Honestly, I am not sure how I ever fitted in a job. It is 2pm, and I am struggling to figure out what I have achieved since 8am this morning. Suffice to say I have not yet left the house. The incessant rain doesn’t help, mind you, but it seems to have taken me half the day to achieve what I would normally have done in an hour after work. WTAF. What the Actual Fluck. I’ve showered-admittedly an achievement in itself but hardly cause for celebration -I’ve done my physio (without too much moaning), breakfasted, snacked and lunched, and done multo-job searching on the Internet, but REALLY?? Six hours??? Tormented I am. Someone once described this phenomenon to me as being like Boyle’s Law of physics, where all the particles of a gas spread out to fill the available space -the small jobs of the day can spread out magnificently, making you feel like you have no time to do anything, but in reality achieving very little. Fecking Boyle. I never liked him anyway, the productive bastard.

More worryingly, all this free time is turning me into quite the menace on social media. She who is by nature a complete silent lurker on Facebook has so far this morning shared about six Donald Trump related articles and gone frantically ‘liking’ anything that denounces him. (Do you denounce Donald and all his evil works? I do.) Additionally, it appears that all skepticism has been put on hold and I subjected three WhatsApp groups and ten of my closest friends to a scam that claimed to give me free Emirates flights. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME??? Where is the cynical silent cyber type we all know and love??? Or at the very least that we don’t dislike and block from the group?? (Which is no less than what I deserve, after the whole Emirates Embarrassment). I will have to take myself in hand. Or in boots, to go searching for work, and keep me out of harm’s way.

 

Evening

Good lord, the rain. Incessant, it is, and I do not have the footwear for this kind of carry on. My Dunnes Stores suede boots were not meant for this weather, and quite frankly I might as well not be wearing them. I am currently squelching around in sopping socks, that have, through some sort of capillary action, drawn the water up through my jeans to about knee level. It is most miserable and off-putting. Twice I have had to sacrifice my feet to such abuse, for more traipsing and mumbling about CVs. Most people are still being nice, although I can tell from their faces that they do not have the slightest notion of hiring me. I suppose I can’t start the moaning yet though- it has only been two days. I have also figured out that yesterday’s restaurant man is most likely to have said he has a 24 hour contract available, for which he will consider me, among others. I don’t fancy my chances. ‘Others’ sound highly accomplished and intimidating, with their presumed fluent French and lack of stammer. However, I am refusing point blank to apply for the jobs in these ‘clubs privé’ that keep popping up on the employment websites. They sound far too like strip clubs for my liking, and fortunately, we are not there yet.