Don’t shoot me just yet and don’t get me wrong, i love Paris. But loving the language, the history, the monuments and the food has nothing to do with me hating on its stupid ways of doing pretty much anything that involves paperwork, accurate scheduling and costumer service. Let me explain.
Exhibit number one: The ridiculous prefecture.
I feel the pain along with all those brave souls who have ever set foot in a prefecture ( the place where all immigrants go). Ever since i got here i have visited the prefecture a total of four times. The first time my husband and i waited seven hours just to get to the information desk to make an appointment to come back and apply. This can not be done any other way. No, not by internet, not by phone or any other way than in preson;not for new applicants.They really make immigrants suffer in France; we are the least of their worries. What made my husnad upset is that he is a French man applyin for his American wife which he thought would be easier than for anyone else that IS NOT French. If you turn on your cell phone the clerks yell at you and tell you to turn it off. It is the closest thing to torture and i wish i was kidding. That time when we got to the desk the lady looked at us like she didn’t know what we were talking about. She refused me on the spot and said it was impossible for me to stay. Finally after explaining and verbally fighting with her she agreed with my husband by giving us an appointment to come back in three months. She told us to go online and look for the list of papers we needed to gather. The date of the appointment came and we headed there happily thinking this would be it. Once we got there we waited about an hour to be seen. The woman looked at the papers and said we were missing two other papers. We told her that the internet page didn’t mention those at all. She didn’t care and gave us another appointment to come back in three months. The second time around the clerk we got told us that i needed the plane tickets and two other papers that the first woman had not told us about. We were desperate, at that point we felt hopeless. The French are capable of making you feel that way when they start babbling about paperwork that doesn’t make sense to begin with. The third time the woman told us i didn’t need the plane tickets and that she was not able to take the proof of address papers which the second clerk had already approved. There was no one we could complain to;no one cares. No one is professional enough to be on the same page about what they need.The managers take the clerks side and you must come back in three months and hope they don’t change their minds about what papers they want. The fourth time was definitely the cherry on top. When we arrived for our appointment the clerk told us they had made a mistake and the computer showed we were meant to be there the day after. The appointment paper they had given us was right so we showed it to her and after she verified with the manager she said we could stay. Once the lady who smelled of pickles called us we started to get our hopes up again which was a mistake. She looked at all the paperwork as if it would determine entering heaven or hell with them. She said that the proof of address papers were now too old. On top of that she said the papers the third clerk had refused were good which meant we could’ve applied the third time. She handed us a list of all the papers we needed. My husband told her we never received that list and that those things were not marked on the website. This time both my husband and i argued with her and we got to say all we had been wanting to say. She said she could give us another appointment but i refused. Four times! A whole year waiting ! Just to apply!
Exhibit number two: Every Monday
I looked up online for the times of the movies playing at the planetarium on that sunny Monday. We made plans to go and left our home around eleven so we would be able to make it to the 12:30 show. Since we didn’t have our car at that time we took 2 metros out of which the second one took the longest. Once we got off the metro we began to run because we only had five minutes left to get there and buy tickets. We were afraid that if we were two minutes late like last time they would refuse to sell us any. Yes, they don’t allow people to buy tickets once the show starts. Even if you are only late by two minutes. To our surprise the place was closed. The whole cite de Science closes every Monday which was no where posted on the website which i had visited to BUY the tickets. What if i had bought them? Would it had let me? The thing even asked me to enter the date of the visit which i did and never once did a sign pop up warning me about Mondays. All museums are closed Mondays!
Exhibit number three: Forget all you know about Customer Service
You can not ever be friendly with cashiers (Parisian ones). Not everyone is the same, i know that but if you find a true Parisian you will know it immediately. If the cashier you get is of another origin rather than just white French it might be different. I said MIGHT. They will look at you like you are crazy. Once at Bien super market in Paris the man helping us(or not helping us) made faces at us when we nicely asked if the bread was sans gluten (no gluten). He put his head up turn the other way and said “IT IS sans gluten”. I felt so uncomfortable, like we were bothering him. I told my husband never to go back there again. In another store called Simply Market i tried to smile at the cashier when she looked up at me. She didn’t smile back instead she started to look concerned and frightened. When i paid her i had to put the money on the counter since she didn’t want me to hand it to her. When she gave me the change she also placed it on the counter without looking at me. I felt strange, had i done something wrong? This people are so wrong you have no idea until you see it for yourself.
Exhibit number four: The pharmacy
When i picked up some creams i needed for a face laser surgery i was surprised to receive the creams without any warnings, side effects or instructions on them. I am used to reading the labels to find out what it does, what times to put them on and the possible side effects. In France no pharmacy wastes their time on putting on labels. If you are lucky enough the pharmacist helps you out with the instructions by writing them on top of the box. Just like in Mexico or El Salvador, weird.