Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How I Now Handle Paying

Tired of constantly being pushed out of the way by customers after me in a line, I now have a new technique for how I pay for my goods at the grocery store. This works as well (sometimes) in the bakery.  Before: I would pay for my groceries and then scramble to put them in the bags. This was not efficient because after I paid, the clerk would begin scanning the next customer's groceries and push them off the scanner. My groceries would then begin to be mixed up with the other customers. The other customer always (being French) would have begun packing their groceries on top of mine and thus reaching over me, standing too close to me, moving me and my groceries out of the way.

Now: I let the cashier scan all my items and I begin (when I am ready) to put my groceries in my bags. I don't bring out my wallet until I've packed all my items. Then I bring out my wallet and pay. Now I get to pack my groceries with no rush (well, other than all the other customers huffing and puffing down the line) and pay without being frazzled.

Much better!

N.B. Sometimes this doesn't work at the bakery where if I'm too slow getting my money out (which seems to be the usual case) the baker will take the next customer's order and their money before me, which seems to be confusing two orders at once, but apparently the French bakers are a very efficient lot and can handle several orders and multiple money exchanges at once. (Except for the times when they get my orders wrong!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leaving Babies in a Car

This post I cannot even believe is one I will be writing. And yet, Emmanuel tells me every year the police arrest people who leave their babies in cars while they go into nightclubs (sometimes even in Winter). :(((( This makes me so sad and so angry!

The same day I was walking home and near got my ankles clipped by a driver (See post on Bad French Drivers), I walked about 50 feet and passed two clinics. I heard a sound of a child crying. Not unusual because there are lots of children in this neighborhood and the French rarely seem to tend to a crying child. (I know I am grossly overstepping and sterotyping, but this is my blog and these are all just my personal unfounded opinions!)

However, I looked trying to find where the child was because there was no one else on the street. I noticed a navy blue BMW station wagon. Inside, on the back seat were two baby car seats. With two babies in them! One was looking out the window with his hand on his face as if to say, "Hmmm, my sister here is bawling her head off but I'll just look outside and try to ignore her." The other was crying hysterically. I looked in the window and she looked at me. I said, "Oh! It's okay...it's going to be okay. Mommy will be here soon."  I looked in the car to see if I could assess anything else. It looked like the keys were inside on a console. Maybe she (the mother) locked the keys inside and is going to get help? That must be it. She must be somewhere getting help. By why didn't she just stay with the children so they didn't become afraid?

The baby girl kept wailing. I felt bad. I had Simon with me and was thinking "how is this situation going to play out?" I knew if I called the police they'd do nothing. I'd only been there a few minutes. They wouldn't take me seriously for a much longer time. No one else was on the street. And even if there was I knew the typical French response would be: "it's not my problem." And: "you shouldn't concern yourself with another's problem." Very French. (That isn't a criticism. It's an observation and a fact from knowing a little about French history, culture and personality shaped over centuries.)

Little girl still crying. Oh God what am I going to do?! I can't stand it. The solution is so simple! The parent keeps the children with them at all times and the babies aren't abandoned! Simple. Why couldn't this woman just do that?!

Another minute passed with me trying to calm the baby down by talking to her. Am I making her more upset? "Who is this stranger in a brown hat cooing at me in a foreign language?!" (I was speaking English.) Then a man in a bright green Ralph Lauren "Big Pony" shirt, Mont Blanc wallet and car keys comes sauntering out of one of the clinics, heading towards the car.

I could not believe it. This guy. This Jerk. Sauntering, ambling, strolling over to his car like NOTHING is inside, let alone two breathing live infants! I said, "is this your car? She's been crying." I didn't come out with anything more fluid because I was shocked by the whole situation.

When I got home Emmanuel confirmed what I knew (and should have said): "NEVER LEAVE A CHLD IN THE CAR!"

What pisses me off is this guy was so casual. So unconcerned. His wife will never know he did this. And if it happens often enough, he could be creating some real trauma for his children.

Why do people have children to do things like that? It really makes me upset.

French drivers are mean. And bad.

I realize I like to complain about the French. It could mean I've become more French myself by doing this. (It is, after all one of their most popular pursuits.) And I realize as I will now begin to complain about French drivers, that there are bad drivers EVERYWHERE. But I am in France. So I will complain about the French drivers--for today.

So. First to bring up is that I have a strong prejudice against French drivers because one ran over my sweet little angel of a dog, Teddy.  He was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Teddy was on his leash, just about to jump up on the curb when this maniac turned the corner fast and didn't even stop till he parked a few meters down the road. He was going fast because he didn't want to get caught.  We took him to justice and two years later I am still waiting for the settlement check, which will never replace my precious Teddy. Nothing will.

Hence, my strong prejudice confirmed. French drivers speed down the streets, speed down one-way streets the wrong way (see above), don't slow down when you are crossing the crosswalk, drive too closely to you as they pass you in the crosswalk and don't seem to slow up or add extra caution if there is a baby in a stroller either.

In terms of parking they are the worst. I will say sometimes they are "creative," but it still is classified under "bad parking." For instance:
  • they nudge other cars backwards or forwards when they park by running into them with their bumper to move them so they have more parking space, or so they can get in (or out) of their space
  • they park on corners, which are not parking spaces
  • they park on sidewalks (mostly half-on, half-off--which is another problem (for them) because they are ruining their tires and suspension)
  • they park in the middle of two streets (see example:
    The black car is PARKED. The red car is driving past it on the street. The white car is parked on the corner.

Instances where drivers have driven too close to us are:
  • the time a woman drove too close to us with the baby in the stroller and Emmanuel hit her car with an umbrella. She didn't stop.
  • same scenarios but I rapped the car with my knuckles (and flipped the driver off) (one was a woman -- I was in the middle of the crosswalk and she kept driving at us) (one was a man who looked at me with astonishment because apparently no one ever did this to him before)
...To be continued...unfortunately.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

June - July Tempo

June is a busy month in Paris. There are "end of the year" parties almost every week as people begin to prepare for the summer, which is serious business here in France. Many people leave Paris in July, and August is a literal ghost-town. (For proof, see my photo-essay on "Closed for the Summer.") Thus, the next Cocktails with Courtney will not be until September! Have a great summer everyone!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Am Stram Gram sucks.

Part-time day care will turn you away or reprimand you if you are not on time (or early) with your child. Our downstairs neighbor has now 2x in the past 3 days harassed us again about the pitter patter of a toddlers feet. I think I'll just ask her if she could move her eyes closer together. Because that's about the same as asking a toddler to tip-toe and not play with his toys. Geesh. Some days...

On the first point I'd like to say this: Children are not adults. Children are not robots. As much as it's recommended they have a schedule (or routine), of which I am a big advocate, I cannot control if my son will sleep 1 1/2 hours, 2, 2 1/2, hours or even 3 hours for his nap. I am of the mind-set that if he needs the sleep, I will let him sleep. After said nap, sometimes he's a finicky eater. Sometimes he takes a long time to get started to eat. Am I supposed to wake my child up from his nap, not feed him lunch if he doesn't eat in the time alloted, not change his diaper and RACE down the street for 10 minutes, wait for a bus whose schedule I definitely do not have control over, and then run another 5 mintues just to get my son to the part-time day-care on time?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

OpenCoffeeClub klatch - July

While most of Paris (nay, France) shuts down in the summer, the weekly OpenCoffee Club Paris stayed open for business each week.  Like usual, there was mingling and sipping of coffee till about 10:30 am when Laurent Tatford (the event organizer) opened a discussion around "What's Your Business Model?" Several attendees brought up Spotify and the crowd-sourcing option like People for Cinema (http://www.peopleforcinema.com/). Others mentioned LaFraise (http://www.lafraise.com/) and Archiduchesse (http://www.archiduchesse.com/) (which is a play on words in French for chaussettes). Just before leaving two young chaps overheard me speaking English and introduced themselves. Julian Ezenwa and Aman Brar are two interns with Le Bridge (http://lebridge.org/), an association focused on building connections between Paris and London (and other European cities) for startups.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Club Amex soiree/presentation

Yann Emilian and Courtney Pulitzer
There are certain large corporations that create a real community among their workers.  And sometimes these corporations even have networks for former employees. Such is the case for American Express. Here in Paris, an enterprising Yann Emilian (now General Director France & Benelux for Affinion International) helped found the Club Amex, which brings together former Amex employees for monthly cocktails.  Sometimes they have a presentation by a company or individual.

This month, on July 7th, they asked lil' ol' me to present. It was quite an honor and quite an impressive turnout.  Over 60 people came to catch up with former colleagues and friends and to savor good wine and hearty hors d'oeuvres. I met Dominic Jerome, who works in travel and insurance; InterContinental Hotels Group's Director of Development (France & North Africa) Brice Marguet who said he might have some nice hotels for my next soiree (great!); and Oasys Consultant's Elodie Warnod. La Banque Postal's Director of Marketing, Card Offers and Daily Money (hmmm, interesting division) Béatrice Delanau brought several colleagues, including the friendly Rémi Desert.

Starting around 7:30 PM, there was plenty of time for networking before Carrefour's Strategy Director Corinne Moulin introduced me and I gave my brief presentation (in French!) to these friendly and welcoming folks.  There were a few questions and many smiles as I invited them all to the next Cocktails with Courtney.