Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Huile D'Olive

As an American living in the 21st century, there are certain things I've come to expect in life.

1. I don't think I should have to wait...for anything...ever.
2. I think people should be nice to me when I buy things from them.
3. Merchandise should be clean and of good quality if you expect me to purchase it from you.

So I went to Monoprix, our local supermarché to buy some extra virgin huile d'olive and came back empty handed, for not just one or two but all three of the reasons listed above.

I have yet to go anywhere in Paris that did not have a line. I'm pretty certain that they like it this way too. Sure businesses could stay open 7 seven days a week (as well as 12 months a year) or hire more staff, or install self checkout lanes, but then your huile wouldn't seem so exclusive, would it? This issue arose when planning our trip to Versailles as well. The Château has about 4 million visitors a year...and three people at the ticket counter every day. That means that you get to wait in line for at least an hour just to buy a ticket. You can purchase online ahead of time, but then you have to wait for your tickets to be mailed to you.

It is also laughable to bring up the notion that "the customer is always right" in France. Here, the customer is always lucky that they are breathing French air and that's about it.

The last, and perhaps worst, item on the list is one that still continues to shock me. It's basically ok to have dirty, broken, crumpled up, used, old, junk sitting around and still expect to have someone pay for it. Although I did bypass the congealed huile, I ended up breaking down and purchasing un râpée to grate my vegetables even though the white plastic on all of the râpées in the store were covered in black dirt or soot of some kind. IN A GROCERY STORE. So I brought it home and washed it and used it and everything was fine and Matthias explained that its natural for oil to congeal (!?!) and that I need to get over my American ideas about perfection and then he asked "oh god, you're not gonna make a post about it are you?" and I probably said no but it's late and I can't sleep so there you have it.

And just in case you're thinking "wow, what a jerk, he's so lucky to be living his dream life in Paris, how dare he complain about lines and dirt!" I totally agree. My lovely friend, Jeannette said to me recently, "Paris is terrible and wonderful." I totally agree, and that's why I love it so much. Tomorrow, I'll go wait in line to purchase my grubby oil from the sneering old lady at Monoprix and I guarantee I'll be smiling the entire time.

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