patience is a virtue.

 Lily pads at Parc de Bercy
by me via Instagram

These past few weeks of my Parisian summer have been just ideal. The lingering hot days, summer chick lit reading, sporadic glasses of rosé on café terraces, and catching up with friends has put me in full vacation mode. While Paris has been good to us this summer, I really am looking forward to heading to the States in a few days, making a stop in New York to continue this summer samba.

Each day leading up to my departure has been jam-packed with errands and small tasks. Setting up the apartment for our dear friend Charles who will be house-sitting, a pre-vacation wax at Body Minute, and a trip to my local supermarket to pick up fun French stuff like wine, apéro snacks and cookies to give out to friends and family. 

Crossing off the market trip today, I had the pleasure of experiencing an extremely rare occasion where there were no lines and several cash registers were open. When does this ever happen here? I guess Paris in the summer really is a ghost town.

Choosing the closest line, I stood behind a man who had a six pack of bottled water and two boxes of quinoa. Perfect. Dazing off and going over what else needed to be done before my departure, I had realized that about 5 minutes had passed and that neither he or I had had moved. Honing in on their conversation, I learned that he was making some kind of exchange or return. These kind of transactions take long almost everywhere, but listening to the complexity of his "case", it became clear that he was going to be there for a while.

This aisle was out.

I turned around to the empty cash register behind me, made eye contact with the cashier, walked over and proceeded to set my items down on the conveyer belt. Bending over in my basket, I put down the final bottle of wine. Looking over at her, I had expected her to start ringing up my items. Silly me, never expect things here, especially when any level of customer service is involved. Rather than starting my purchasing process, she had gone ahead and opened her drawer to begin counting her bills. Was she not open? I didn't want to distract her from her count (there is nothing more annoying than that), so I stood there, waiting. Once I saw her going into the larger bills, I meekly asked her if she was open. 

No response. Okay.

The cashier behind her was open and available and was handing a receipt to a departing customer. As quickly as I could, I gathered my things and made my way to now my third cashier. Before making it over, a woman wheeling two of those grandma caddies (see here) exploding with groceries, swooped in before me and began to unload her seemingly two week supply of sustenance. 

Of course, the woman didn't know that I had been attempting to make my purchases, for now, three aisles, but it felt good to think that she did. In response to my silent accusation, I let out a huffy sigh and a mini c'est pas possible. Ridiculous and useless, I know, but it felt satisfying to be stereotypically French and grouchy for a second. 

Then, a tag team of two women stood behind me on the line, looked over the aisle of the counting cashier and asked each other if she was open. I was going to chime in complain about her but they were already en route and were promptly rung up. Not wanting to be on the longest line in the market as the woman in front of me had barely unloaded the first caddy, I made my way back to the aisle with woman counting money who was handing change back to the two women. After setting everything down (again!), I made eye contact with her and mouthed a sheepish bonjour. At this point, I felt pretty dumb.

It was then that she SLAMMED down her "aisle closed" sign right in front of my pile of goods. 

Come. On.

So now, I felt really fucking dumb. But there was nothing I could do other than breathe and just go back to the line where I had come from. It was turning into a bad joke...

I managed to get out of there within 35 minutes, sweating from all of the physical activity I had done from playing musical aisles with wine bottles. But I guess that's what I get for being impatient, I should have just waited on the first line! 

It looks I'm getting myself ready for New York, the land of folks who don't have a second to spare and who would have gone into absolute hysterics (not that I was practicing total zen over here) had this happened there. Can you imagine? 

It was certainly a practice in patience, but am looking forward to the second leg of my vacation where I won't need to practice any. Can't wait to see you crazy New York!


  1. uuhh I get angry just by reading, I can feel that I'm getting my french attitude on. I would have left the stuff on her line and walked away to another store.

    We were on night in a cheap restaurant, yes cheap but still if they have someone to waiter you, its a restaurant for me. The waitress didn't ever smile, and took our plates off while we were not finished! Luckily I have had few glasses of wine so I bursted into a laugh instead of anger. Vive la France! ;)

    Have a great holidays!!

    1. I must be getting soft in my old age because it never even occurred to me to go to another market! I guess it's knowing that the staff and management wouldn't give a damn, it loses its satisfaction and would essentially make me ever more miffed to have to go to another market.

      The server took your plate before you were done?? Now THAT calls for an outrage! I would be so annoyed! Good thing you had your wine! : )

  2. Wow, how rude... but i guess you got to have some patience when in Paris. I wont be able to put up with that cashier... uhhh... just thinking about gets me upset. As Sini said, i would be leaving all the items on the conveyor belt.

    And knowing me i probably would put some more and crowd the belt and utter lets play a game - how long would it take you guys to walk all the way to the various aisle to replenish the shelves and just simply walk out of there (yes i'm a meanie lol).

    You just got to love Paris :) :) :)

    I know you will enjoy your vacation with stops in NY and your "moon" in California, oh what bliss!

    A place where your "good mornings" and "please, thank you" is actually appreciated and given.

    1. When I say that Paris has made me a different person, my patience is a huge part of that statement. If this were NY, about 5 years ago, I would have lost it but in Paris, while yes it's super annoying, I tend to blow it off because I know it's better to just surrender to the flow than to fight it.

      Thanks for your well honeymoon wishes! I'm excited to show off the town! LA is so much fun!!

  3. Ha ha, I ALWAYS pick the wrong line! And talking of rude, a friend of mine got told off by someone for "jumping" the queue when she went in front of a woman who had wandered off to grab more stuff and wasn't back in time when the cashier was ready. Forgetting something and popping back quickly is sometimes acceptable, but I swear half of them plonk 2 items down and then go back, do an entire shop, and expect to go to the front of the line.

    1. That's ridiculous! So your friend was supposed to just wait for her to come back from finishing her shopping?? No, she did right by proceeding. I hope it wasn't the cashier that yelled at her. That would be super annoying...

      When I run and get something (which I think is a little rude as is), I make sure that I am at least 2 people behind so something like this doesn't happen. How could anyone expect a total stranger to stand there and wait for you? Crazy, I tell you..

  4. Oh God.

    I must admit that after two years of Dutch customer service, I was absolutely elated to be back in the Land of Customer Service! Our first evening back in Ottawa, we ate out and couldn't quite believe it!:))) Now, good service is all taken for granted again.

    I must say I've lucked out in France. I've never had a grocery store mishap. Knock on wood!:))

    1. Grocery store mishaps are few and far between but when they do happen they are epically this.

      Customer service, oh how I have been enjoying it these past few days. I went to buy sneakers and was nearly fought over by two sales associates wanting to show me their new models. Yes they may be working on commission but I did not mind the attention and all of the information they had offered me.

      OH! And I brought home leftover food to-go from the restaurant last night that I will be eating for lunch today!! Good to be back, America!

  5. Mm. You have more patience than me too. I think I would have politely pointed out i had been waiting a while at the third till when grandma appeared with two trolleys and then walked out of the shop if I did not get served first.

    But then I am English and queue jumping, even innocently, is a hanging offence here and not a sport like it is in France.
    Love Denise

    1. I'm really not sure if this would have worked. I don't think the cashier would care that I had tried to checkout on other registers that were not her own...just a guess. But yeah, the grandma trolley was just beyond at that point. I'm a big believer in letting someone go ahead of me if I see they only have a few items and I have tons...but I think I'm the only one in this regard!

      Hahaha English and queue jumping...BOY do I have a story for you! I'll post it tomorrow...I had an incident with one of your compatriots about this at the airport!! Can't wait to hear your feedback! : )

  6. ROFL, sorry, I might have been hurling the stuff at her ;o)

    I often have to argue the reverse with the 'helpers' that direct people to tills when I'm doing my monthly shop, 'There's a free one over here' they say as I pull up to one where I will have to wait, 'Yes,' I say, 'But I need to be able to unpack this entire trolley, and then pack it again once it's been through, I'm the only person here, I can't unload that fast', 'No, no,' they tell me, 'This one's free NOW'. 'I KNOW,' I start losing patience, 'But I can't unpack and repack all that stuff at warp speed, I'll be blocking people that can actually go through faster', 'Yes, but it's FREE, it's FREE NOW!' They really can't compute why I don't want to jump queues...

    Of course if I've got a basket, then I head right for the self checkout, and hell mend anyone that gets in my way ;o)

    1. The self-checkout RULES! I don't know why I don't take advantage of it more often. The supermarket mentioned in this post had several available self-checkouts that I chose not to utilize. Maybe I'm a masochist? : )

  7. oh oh oh i'm so glad that you have these issues. i always just assume it's because i don't speak french well enough and can't "speak my mind" although I'm not sure I would speak my mind the same way here...

    and honestly... every activity that i think will take "oh just 20 minutes" always ends up taking at least an hour because only one cashier is open or the store that had X last time doesn't have it this time so I have to walk the extra 20 minutes to the store that *might* have X only to be faced with only one cashier and a gazillion grannies and their caddies... PS: thanks for the shout out:) xxx

    1. Oooooh no, it is NOT a language thing. Although they will try to tell you that! I get just as much merde speaking French than I did when I didn't speak. I just think in the moment, it is difficult to deliver a snappy response like we would in English and we end up suffering in silence. So dramatic, I know.

      This is a universal problem being an expat, we don't communicate as well as we would if we were in our own country. It's frustrating!

      So how often do you take your caddy out for a ride? : )

  8. oh and HAVE A GREAT TRIP !!!! CANT wait to hear all about it! x

  9. WTF?! (that means What the French, not the other one)
    That whole scenario is so French I can't get over it. Of course it would take you 35 minutes to check out when the supermarket was practically empty, of course it would! x

    1. Exactly, of course this would happen. I don't even get mad anymore I just do what any normal person would do: huff and puff. ; )

  10. You did well not break things - over this way you'd get awkward tutts and a bit of an awkward 'do we help' vibe from the other customers.

  11. hah paris takes patience! but i'm so jealous you've been there all summer. travel safely back to the states! can't wait to follow along on your blog! XO
    the well-traveled wife