Monday, 11 July 2011

Oh Putain, C'est Pas Vrai! (bienvenue au RATP)

The staff of the Paris metro haven't always been synonymous with 'customer service with a sparkling smile', although to be fair these days they're usually exceedingly helpful and understanding, especially where tourists are concerned.

All those customer care workshops and English courses they get sent on must finally be paying off.

Customer care hasn't reached the 'Information' office at Trinité station on line 12 yet though.

I was passing just as the ogre, I'm sorry, I mean 'lady' you see in the photo here was leaving her booth and about to lock the door, at 1.30 in the afternoon, before heading off to a destination unknown.

I don't know why I took it into my head to ask for a new metro map at that moment, but I regretted it for the rest of the week.

"Excusez-moi?" I asked, in my best Expat tones.

"Oui?" came the blunt reply.

"Errr..." (I admit I hesitated, but certainly wasn't ready for what came next)

"Est-ce que je peux avoir un plan du métro, s'il vous plaît ?" (Could I have a map of the metro, if it pleases you?)

It didn't please her one little bit, apparently.

Without the slightest hesitation or hint of remorse she let rip a resounding

"Oh PUTAIN, c'est pas vrai!!!" (which translates quite accurately, I believe, as 'Oh FUCK, I don't believe it!!!')

before returning to her booth in the worst possible humour in order to fulfil my request.

I saw her a minute later on the opposite side of the rails carrying out some impenetrable mission, which seemed to involve walking to the other end of the platform and back, and for which I she was now, thanks to me, a good 7 seconds behind schedule. I hope she didn't get in trouble over that one.

I'm intending to complain just for the hell of it to see what happens and see if they actually do anything, but maybe this 'naming and shaming' will calm me down for the moment. But I can honestly say that this encounter of the absurd kind did leave me feeling destabilised for the rest of the week.

Now whenever I go down there (and it is currently my local working station after all) I get a twist of anxiety as to whether I'll cross the Terror of the Trinité and get another screaming hissy fit thrown at me for daring to ask an RATP employee to do her job. I'll keep you posted.

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