Monday, November 1, 2010

Victory in the metro station

Today I had a triumphant interaction with a typical French customer service person. I needed to recharge my monthly Metro pass and although there are machines that do this in the stations, they don't accept non-European credit cards. Fortunately, someone was behind the desk, so I approached him and started to tell him what I needed. The glass window was shut, so he couldn't hear me, but he pointed at the video screen that says something along the lines of "I'm busy attending to something away from my desk and will return in a few minutes. In my absence, please purchase your tickets using the self-service machines." I looked at it, and then looked at him, and said, "But you're right there." He pointed at the screen again, this time underlining the text with his finger with an exaggerated gesture. I looked at him again and said "Yes, I see that, but that doesn't help me." Finally he opened the glass so he could hear me, and I asked him "You're not able to help me?" He asked what I wanted and I told him what I needed to do. He tried to tell me that I could use the machines to do this. I pulled out my credit card and told him that the machines didn't take my card. He looked at my card and agreed that the machine wouldn't work. Then he just looked at me. I said, so what am I supposed to do? He said, don't you have any other way to pay? I said no. He just stared at me and I stared at him and I said again, "You really can't help me?" And all of a sudden, he completely yielded, took my card and, with the utmost politeness and efficiency, recharged my pass for me. Amazing. I will never again take no for an answer with a Frenchie, at least not without going several rounds first.These pictures, which have nothing to do with the content of the post, were taken near the Tour St. Jacques in the 4th, which is where I took my walk today.


  1. hI kATIE -

    The hilarity of your description was heightened much by my imagining, in my pidgeon-French manner, what the phrases were that you were uttering in
    order to make your point. So I salute you for your sucess! Love,


  2. I second your Dad"s comment! I have encountered this same dilemma many times at the Glaciere metro station but don"t have the language skills to argue with the attendant. Instead, i dutifully scrounge for enough euro coins to purchase a carnet.... God, i miss paris!

  3. Katie--Your post brought back so many memories of rude encounters with "customer service" employees in France. I share in your triumph!-becky

  4. You go girl! I've enjoyed reading your blog and following your adventure. You sound busy and like you are enjoying this. Great that Michele came for a visit! Is your Dad coming over. I've emailed Noah Charney with your info in case he gets to Paris.
    Love, Karen