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 alongside 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, nor by any other way; you have to show in person.
They really make immigrants suffer in France; we are the least of their worries. I have no idea why the heck they take immigrants when they don’t hurry to help them so they can get work faster (in reality there is no work). But of course, in my case it is different, i didn’t come on a boat fleeing for my life from a dangerous country; but then again, neither do those thousands of people who come from countries that are not at war. I am confused about the way France does so many things, but that is another article where i will not dare enter into politics anyways.
What made my husband upset is that he is a French man who was applying for his American wife which he thought would be easier to do than for anyone else that is not French. Okay, so let me explain what happens while in hell, i mean the prefecture… 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. The reason why that is so stupid is because they use their cellphones while working, take their sweet time talking to each other even if there is someone standing in front of them, and don’t even let you approach them if you are not next in line. I mean why would using a cell phone in a waiting room, bother anyone when we have to wait for hours, and hours, and hours( we waited close to seven hours) just to be spoken to. If anything, they should allow cellphones so people don’t feel like they are waiting in hell; that would help people get distracted from the waiting time.
That time when we got to the desk the lady looked at us like she didn’t know what we were talking about, literally. She refused me on the spot and said it was impossible for me to stay in France. Finally after explaining( again and in detail the way French do before getting anywhere in negotiations) 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 to look at the list of papers we needed to gather, and so we did just that.
The date of the appointment came and we headed there happily thinking this would be it. But oh was i wrong, ever so wrong; my French lawyer in LA had warned me about his people and his country’s way of doing things long ago. 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, but of course, 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 to prove day of entrance (yes passport wasn’t enough) 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. But still, my husband kept it together and didn’t beat up anyone in hopes that the next time, we would finally be able to apply since i did have the airplane ticket stubs in my journal and all other documents needed.
The third time, another woman told us we didn’t need the plane tickets after all, but then added that she was not able to take the proof of address papers which the second clerk had already approved. That time we almost lost it! “Is the freaking universe playing a trick on us? Are they really like this here? Is it this stupid and unorganized everywhere else too? This can’t possibly be possible!” I yelled inside my head in desperation. There was no one we could complain to; no one seems to care! No one is professional enough to be on the same page about what they need, want and require. 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. “Can someone just tell us what they really want so we can give it to them? Like for real, this time ask them that because we have everything” I told my husband to do before leaving.
The fourth time was definitely the cherry on top. When we arrived for our appointment the clerk told us that they had made a mistake and the computer showed we were meant to be there the day after. However, since the appointment paper they had given us had that day’s date, we showed it to her and after disappearing into a hidden office for more than ten minutes, she came out to tell us that we could stay but that we still had to wait.
Once the lady who smelled of pickles or sweat, called us to her desk, we started to get our hopes up again; but of course, that was a mistake. She looked thoroughly through at all the paperwork as if it were to determine entering heaven or hell with them. She said that the proof of address papers were now…get this… too old. On top of that she said the papers the third clerk had refused were good, which meant we could’ve had applied the third time we were there. No matter how much my husband argued with her, and no matter how i laughed about it in her face, she handed us another list; apparently it was the real list of all things needed.
My husband repeated himself once and again and told her that we never received that list and that those things were not marked on the website. She dryly and uncaringly with an expression of i don’t give written all over her face, offered to give us another appointment but i refused. “Four times? A whole year waiting! Just to apply? This is ridiculous…” I told her out loud but of course, no one understood. After that day i began planning to leave my husband in France and to go back to USA where i would once again get my life back in order and then apply for my husband’s green card,which i was informed by my French lawyer in LA that it would take only three months for him to get. But life is mysterious and God’s ways aren’t our ways and everything miraculously changed for the best in the south of France. I shared what happened after that on another article on this link here below. https://leaving2paris.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/regularised-in-france-in-two-months-after-applying/
Exhibit number two: Every Monday
I had looked up (online) the times for the movies playing at the planetarium on that sunny Monday. We made plans to go and left our home around eleven in the morning 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 to buy the 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). But of course, it is Paris so here you always have to be ready for negative things to happen out of no where. The place was closed. The whole cite de Science closes every Monday which was no where posted on the website where you go to buy movie tickets. “What if i had bought them? Would they let people buy tickets even if they know it is closed on that day?” I asked my husband but he was clueless. “The thing had even asked me to enter the date of the visit which i did enter! Never once did a sign pop up warning me about Mondays!” I said to him while we stood in front of the large glass doors. We went back on another time(many times) and i managed to record a video of the inside of the place and also of the movie theater, here it is.
Exhibit number three: Forget all you know about Customer Service
You can not ever be friendly with Parisian cashiers; not if they are not friendly with you first that is. Not everyone is the same of course, i know that but if you find a true Parisian you will know it immediately. They will look at you like you are crazy if you smile at them. Here i have the impression that being cold, distant, and even rude is their way of acting cool; it is so different from what i have been taught all of my life, and from what i am used to.
Once inside a 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 chin up in the air and turned the other way while murmuring “IT IS sans gluten”. I felt so uncomfortable, It was like he didn’t want us to talk to him and like we were bothering him; I told my husband never to go back there again, and we never did.
In another store called Simply Market, i tried to smile at the cashier when she looked up at me from the register. But she never smiled back and instead she started to look concerned and frightened, it was horrible! I was going around bothering all these people just by acting normal and friendly. When i paid her i had to put the money on the counter since she didn’t want me to hand it to her; she depressingly sat there looking down at the counter while i placed the money on it. When she gave me the change she also placed it on the counter without ever glancing back at me. I am not kidding when i say that i felt like crying; it was so strange to me, all the way home i asked myself if i had done something wrong. Those were not the only times that it happened and it is still happening but now i just ignore them the same way they do to me and go on with my day!
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 labels, 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 (I worked in pharmacies for years in LA). In France, just like in some parts in Mexico, it seems that the pharmacies don’t like to waste 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. At least the medicine and doctors are cheap! I am posting a link to another article where i wrote about my family’s first visits to dentists, pharmacy, doctors, and more.
So there it is people, more complaining lol. I am very aware that not everyone is the same, that no country is perfect and all that blah blah blah but hey! Paris is known for being well…rude and a bit, God forgive me…bitchy. And at times, it really is, it really really is.