Lyon

7 – The French

1. There’s a Travalator that links one floor of the Carrefour where I get my lunch, to the next floor. So why is it that everyday as I’m madly dashing to grab something to eat before my next lesson, everybody’s  standing still on it like dummies on a production line being conveyor-belted up to the second floor. Why can’t they walk: it’s an aid, not a fairground ride you hop on and off.

2. They hose the streets clean every morning, but it makes no difference; it still smells of urine. Even in the nice streets. I was walking to my 8.30 class this morning in some well-to-do distinct and there it was. That familiar smell rising up from the pavements. Just like in Guillotiere where I live. It’s bizarre. Are they hosing the streets down with freshly drawn silage every morning, or letting gangs of English football supporters maraud around the city late at night marking their territory with 10, 000 pints of piss? I don’t know. Maybe I should keep my eyes open more.

3. And so we come to the big one. It happens in the UK, but here, it’s endemic. It’s something that has frustrated me throughout my adult life.

You’re standing in the checkout queue of a supermarket. There’s somebody in front of you. The checkout girl starts moving the customer’s items over the scanner and they start piling up in the bagging area. But there’s no bagging going on. The customer hasn’t even thought about this yet. He or she is busy fiddling around with their phone, messaging their friend that ‘They are in a supermarket bagging up.’ Which is a lie, because they’re not and I’m getting fidgety.

The words, ‘It’s fine, there’s no rush!’ ping-pong round my mind. ‘I’ll just stand here all day waiting for my body to turn to ash while you stand there wasting my precious time.’ I can’t actually say it, because I’m a coward, which makes it even worse, as I feel my head approach explosion point. If she doesn’t start doing something in the next two seconds, I will expire.

Whether it’s my wild gurning or excessive perspiration, the customer normally gets the hint that I’m exceptionally angry, and so slowly, ever so slowly, starts bagging up. But something is forgotten. It’s the logical response, but the halfwit in front of me doesn’t get it. A new born would think of it first. Why not pay now? Pay now! Get the transaction underway, then bag up. Why does nobody think of this! It may save everybody only 60 seconds, but at least it shows you give a shit. Show some respect. But nobody does. Not here. They fart around on their phones, they talk to the checkout person, bag up slowly, spend an hour looking for their purse or wallet in their oversized bag, and then fumble in the million zipped compartments of their precious purses trying to find the right card. The card is refused, the transaction cancelled and the whole episode has been a total waste of five minutes of my life. And in effect, ruined my day.

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