The day started out fairly normally: eat breakfast, shower, drive into town to find free wifi, pass a 20 year old girl and her mother in the street examining the sex toys in the window of the local ‘high-class’ sex shop, hear said 20 year old girl share with mother which one she particularly enjoys… You know, just the usual.
But it all got a little bit weird around lunchtime when I had to phone Orange to sort out my broken down internet connection. Apparently calling customer service here is not just a matter of waiting in line, but actually it is a test of your French pronunciation and a battle of wits. Orange France do not have your average ‘If you want such-and-such, press 1, or if you need so-and-so, press 2’ – oh no! – Orange France have gone down the ‘If you wish to speak to a customer service advisor, say : “Service clientèle” ‘ route. Hmmm… ok, I’ll try!
So, I made it past the pronunciation stage (yesss!) and then I am presented with the following : “Please state the nature of your problem”. Now, generally the automated-speaking-lady in these sorts of things is programmed to understand certain words and phrases. So that when you top up your electricity with NIE, and automated-speaking-lady asks you to confirm your customer service number, she reads you the number you’ve just typed and says: “To confirm, say ‘yes'”. Simple enough. But not Orange France! Noooooo… they want you to just hazard a guess at the key words automated-speaking-lady going to compute. Errmmm… “L’internet ne fonctionne pas?” or “Internet Orange est un pile de poo?”… I guess that’s maybe easier to work out if French happens to be your first language, but its not exactly conducive to getting things done for a foreigner!
But you’ll be glad to hear that I passed that test too. Eventually…
By this next stage, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been set up by some kind of Krypton Factor slash Candid Camera type thing, because a few minutes later, the lady (a real one this time) is telling me to take a knife prise open 6 metallic strips on the filter which was plugged into my phone socket.
“I’m sorry, what? A knife??” (thinking my French ears must’ve gone on holiday)
Oui, Madame, un couteau.
Oui, Madame, sérieux.
So, there I am, my mobile phone on loudspeaker on the table, hacking away at these metallic strips with a kitchen knife. Which, by the way, did not go so well as the other tasks – Krypton Factor Girl I am Not. After 5 minutes of me muttering and hacking and wondering if they’ll accept liability should I chop off a fingertip in the process, and during which time I’m sure the lady (the real one) is fiddling away with some things on Orange’s end to resolve the real problem, she finally tells me it doesn’t matter and to just plug the freakin thing back into the wall! And lo and behold, she tells me there’s a fault on the line.
No shizz, Sherlock.
Lucky for you, it got sorted and I can update you on these things, eh?
Dinner was on the balcony over discussing some bible reading I hadn’t done, not praying and generally feeling pretty grumpy and pissed off. And then the evening was topped off drinking cider out of a plastic cup down by the river in the dark.
That was my day today.
Just so you know.
That was my day.