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“Raining “”Merde”” in the City of Light”

Sometimes the “merde” (excuse my language) “comes down SO heavy I feel like I should wear a hat.” (Ned Racine, from Lawrence Kasdan’s script for “Body Heat”).

Mind you, I’m not complainin’. After all, this is life in Paris and normally, it just doesn’t get better than that. In fact, whenever I make a call to the States to some unknown party who’s going to ‘fix’ this problem or that and I explain that I’m calling from Paris, he/she says, “Oh, you’re in Paris!? How lucky you are!” To which I reply, “Yes, I wholeheartedly agree.”

Nonetheless, it’s been raining merde just like the wet kind that’s about to come down any minute — but at least that kind is good for my geraniums. This kind is just causing unnecessary anxiety and stress.

So, do you mind if I ‘vent’ or do you want to believe that life in Paris is always as perfect as we Expats want you to believe? The thing is, that these things could happen to almost anyone anywhere, so the truth be known, if one had to ‘suffer’ through the trials and tribulations of life, one might as well do them in the City of Light, no?

Here goes.

First of all, this one isn’t so bad…it’s just a new “couronne” (crown) that must be done over three one-hour visits to my adorable and funny French dentist…that costs a fortune (820€)…but that my “assurance mutuelle” (additional insurance) pays for about half. Ariane Brunet, “La Dentiste Extraordinaire,” has been taking care of my mouth for about 14 years now and over the course of that time, her English has improved to the point that I don’t have to try out my best French or make hand motions to be understood. She cracks jokes and ask questions (which are impossible to answer under the circumstances!), and once you’ve had that miracle Novacaine shot, you don’t care at all what she’s up to.

This last session I discovered that my iPhone screen acted as a mirror so I could see what she and her assistant were doing to my over-stretched mouth, to which she was concerned I’d get scared! She can’t promote herself, but I certainly can, so if you need the best dentist in Paris who is also pretty, sweet and funny, not to mention the best at what she does, contact Ariane Brunet at 75 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, Tel: 01 48 87 62 56 and tell her I sent you.

Secondly, a little task turned into a long and expensive ordeal. Normally I sing the praises of “Darty,” the appliance store that NORMALLY has the best service in town, but not this time. Perhaps it’s the bad ‘karma’ I’ve been carrying around these days, but nothing was going my way. The only thing I had to do was get a new hose for the vacuum cleaner. Sounds simple, right? Wrong!

In the vacuum cleaner department downstairs at the Darty store at Place de la République, the sales person immediately sent me upstairs to the “Service Après Vente” department to order a new hose. That seemed logical enough, but it also meant a 20-minute wait in line to see a service representative.

The moment I showed him the hose, he said, “Sorry, it’s not possible. You’ll have to purchase a “flexible universelle” that will work with all the vacuum cleaners. Okay. That seemed logical enough. So, back downstairs I went and with no further ado, opened the package to test it out with the hose I had luckily brought along with me.

Well, wouldn’t you just know it? The “flexible universelle” wasn’t “universelle” enough…and didn’t fit MY hose! So, what do you think I had to do? Buy another vacuum cleaner, of course!! And since the sales person didn’t wait for me to verify the fit and took another customer, it meant another 10-minute wait. Ugh. One hour and €€€ later, I was ‘schlepping’ a big heavy box all the way back home and up my stairs, minus, of course, the hose which was left in the “poubelle” (trash) at Darty.

Thirdly, the contractor who has worked on 11 projects with us (!) and who is about to go ‘belly up’ is causing more problems and more expense for all of us than the law should allow…and that’s exactly what has transpired…getting the law involved. We now have a lawyer, a “huissier” (bailiff) and the insurance company scrambling to find a way for him to take responsibility for his actions, or lack of, and to compensate us ‘poor slobs’ (clients) who are being ‘taken to the cleaners.’ Yesterday I learned that: 1) the work he DID manage to do (even when he was told to hold off doing anything at all) has to be redone because it was done so badly (€€€!) and that the damage that was done to my neighbor’s ceiling will not be covered by my own insurance (€€€!) and the 10,000€ I gave him an advance will never be seen again, not to mention the additional €€€ for the lawyer and huissier. Ugh! The whole ordeal is leaking money like a sieve.

That’s when I put on the hat to protect myself from the merde, and good thing. In the midst of such insanity, the phone rang (each time it rings I jump knowing it’s going to be some new disaster), and lo and behold, someone has now compromised some of my online accounts, making charges and messing up my identity royally! Luckily, one online company caught it quickly and recommended a change of passwords throughout my electronic life. Guess it’s time for a “password manager.” Can you recommend one?

The good news is that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and in a little more than 24 hours, none of this will matter as the eight of us Americans (along with one or two foreigners) chomp on our juicy French turkeys, savor our caramelized sweet potatoes (grown in Israel and bought at the Richard Lenoir open-air market), wash it all down with good French wine and pretend the “Tarte au Pommes” is really old fashioned home-made Apple Pie.

I certainly hope you all have as wonderful a holiday as we will here, in the City of Light that rains a bit of merde every now and then –just like anywhere else.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
(photo by iPhone with Ariane Brunet [left] and her assistant [right])

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P.S. French Property Insider subscribers…you have one day off as we all take off for Thanksgiving. Look for your next issue on December 3rd and for those of you who are not yet subscribers and would like to be — so that you can learn all you can about property investment in France, click here for more information

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