I am talking about elections of course. I have reached the point, that most citizens in all countries (that vote) must get to during presidential campaigns, where I just can't stand seeing their forced smiling faces spouting off about the glory of France for one more televised speecifing moment.
I know who I would vote for, do you?
It is especially painful as apparently the SNCF in this one little corner of France does not want one of the above candidates to win. (not the candidate on the right).
Remember people my campaign slogan: Megan: Doing her best to screw with the French Language.
The final election is May 6th.
This isn't even a rant for me, it is just DAILY LIFE.
I went with Alain and his parents this afternoon to vote in Lançon. Everyone has an assigned voting place where you must go. I guess some places have electronic machines, but this was just regular ballots. You go in, show your electoral card and ID, then they give you an envelope and 12 slips of paper, one with each name. You go into a cabinet, put one of the names into the envelope, (throw the others away I guess, I don't know). Then you go out and put the envelope into a box. As you put it in, the person in charge of the box clicks a lever or something to count the number of envelopes put into the box. Hopefully the numbers match up at the end of the day.
No, my new topic is the SNCF. Yep, the trains. They decided to strike, again. Heaven knows why. All they will say is “Due to a social movement by a certain number of our employees...”I feel like going up to the desk and saying “Please! Explain to me what your problem is. Then I can maybe understand why it has become my problem for the past two months!” So I have been taking the bus from Marseille to Toulon, which takes a good 50 minutes. So glad I bought the monthly train subscription! I really feel they should be paying me back for this. So I have to walk to the bus stop, which takes a good, 10-15 minutes I would say. I could take a bus, and then switch, but they never come on time. So I wait about five minutes past the time they say that they are going to come, start walking, and have it wizz by me several minutes later. In defiance, when I take the train to go home in the evenings, I sit in first class. It is my own personal recompense. It is not like the difference between first and economy from New York to Paris. This is slightly better seats and less grafitti. I dare any SNCF ticket collector to come along, check my ticket, and try to fine me for sitting in first when I haven’t paid for it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Oh no. Hell hath no fury like a megan forced to put up with an entire country on strike for two months.
Alain thinks it is because of the elections coming up. Certain public sectors want to show that they are important and need to be dealt with by the new government, so they do this by making the Ordinary Citizen’s life miserable until the OC complains to the government, demanding that something be done. Hey, to make things really super duper, how ‘bout you throw in a garbage collector’s strike too? Seriously, they want more people to take public transportation for pollution, traffic, and parking spots reasons, but then make it infuriatingly impossible to actually get to work on time, or get home after a long day of work. The price is reasonable, but when you can’t count on being on time for work, one gets ready to say “Screw it, we’ll just buy a second car. To hell with the environment!”
Yesterday, I was sitting on the quai, reading the newspaper and waiting for the train. A guy comes up to me, dressed in a white t shirt and khaki pants, holding a SNCF blue hat. He asks to see my ticket. He didn't look like a ticket collector, he looked and acted like a guy trying to get my number. (He said it in the way that guys do when they think they've thought up a great pick-up line). I said no. He said -No, Why? Because you don't look like a SNCF ticket collector. -But I have this hat. Then show me some ID. (You never know, he could take my ticket and run off with it). Finally another guy (dressed in the full blues) comes up and asks to see my ticket. So I show it to him and complain about the strike. Vous faites chier à tout le monde!
This afternoon, on what would have been my day to get home early, I spent an hour playing musical trains. First it was quai 1 at 17:52. Then quai 2 at 18:12. Then quai 2b at 18:30. That train was announced, but then blew right past without stopping. Another train pulls up, the announcer says that it is going to Marseille, everyone piles on. And sits there for about 10 minutes until the message gets fully passed that no, this train is not going to Marseille. Everyone piles back off, goes back to quai 2 to finally catch a train at 18:55. Apparently it is because of the elections, because I overheard another guy talking about it. Wow, one more reason to love politics!
"I don't need a man to make it happen
I get off being free
I don't need a man to make me feel good
I get off doing my thing
I don't need a ring around my finger
To make me feel complete
So let me break it down
I can get off when you ain't around Oh!"
etc. sound fairly Girl Powerish until you watch the video.
I don't NEED a man either. I freely admit that I WANT one, am THROUGHLY happy with the one I have, and wouldn't TRADE him even for a man with a shower in his apartment, but I am not dancing around 3/4ths NAKED on tv proclaiming that I don't NEED one.
If this was Gloria Steinham dancing around in a muumuu, it would be somewhat convincing. But when your other songs are "Loosen up my Buttons"
"You been saying all the right things all night long
But I can't seem to get you over here to help take this off
Baby, can't you see? How these clothes are fitting on me
And the heat coming from this beat
I'm about to blow
I don't think you know"
"Every boy's the same
Since up in the seventh grade
They been trying to get with me
Trying to Ha, ha-ha, ha, ha-ha
They always got a plan
To be my one and only man
Want to hold me with their hands
Want to Ha, ha-ha, ha, ha-ha
I keep turning them down
But, they always come around
Asking me to go around
That's not the way it's going down"
You loose credibility.
What does this have to do with France? Just that Frenchwomen, for the most part, seem to own up to the fact that yes, they are dressing like that in order to attract men. That they didn't spend 100 euros on uncomfortable lingerie for a week long retreat in a convent and that they don't really LOVE wearing five inch high stilettos. At least they are honest about it.
From Provence Web: The village is surrounded by the superb landscapes of
the Alpilles, with olive groves, green valleys and vine fields punctuated here
and there by super tastefully restored residences. From a distance before you
arrive in the village you'll see Eygalières, perched on the summit of a small
hill. As you approach you'll be able to make out the small houses which make up
the village and you'll have only one thought, stop a while to visit. You'll
discover a village which has known how to preserve its’ authentic charm with
it's beautiful stone houses, almost always framed with a touch of green or sweet
smelling flowers which allow glimpses of beautiful gardens beyond. The houses,
wisely cling together along the small winding streets. The main street takes you
up to the village Church from where you can visit the chateau ruins, and the
esplanade of the old gatehouse and Saint-Laurent church. The Eygalières local
history museum is also worth a visit. It can be found in the Chapelle des
Pénitents (XVII°) and presents some prehistoric relics as well as an interesting
collection of agricultural tools. From the museum there are magnificent views
towards the Caume mountain, the Alpilles and the River Durance. Similar views
can also be enjoyed from the Calade path which leads past the chapel. For
cyclists, take the D24 from Eygalière and you'll enjoy a lovely tour around some
of the famous Alpilles landscapes. Take the direction of Aureille and you'll pas
by the pretty Pas de Figuières at 247 m altitude, whilst breathing in the heady
scents of pine trees, wild herbs and of course all to the backdrop of the
singing cicadas.Sites to visit: Saint-Sixte chapel XII°C and the hermitage
(1 km East of the village), Pénitents Chapel (XVII°), Local History Museum, and
the Parish Church. Things to do: Walking/Hiking, Mountain Biking,
Boulodrome, and Summer Events.
For more pictures
And no, for once I am not talking about La Poste. I am talking about the SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer- national French train network). Around about, oh, the second week after I started working, they decided to go on strike. No real reason why, or at least no reason that was explained to the disgruntled passengers. The day before they would post a notice saying that they were on strike, but that the following trains would still be in operation.
There are two trains that I can normally take to get to work on time. One leaves at 7:37 and gets to Aubagne at about 7:53, the other that leaves at 7:49 and gets in at 7:59. They said that the 7:37 was canceled, but that the 7:49 was still running, as well as the 8:11 and 8:48. I figured that that would be okay, even if I had to do an all-out sprint to catch the bus. It typically makes a loop through the centre ville and then passes close by the train station before heading out to the industrial area. It usually gives me a five minute margin to sprint to the stop. So I got there a little before 7:49, only to find out that it was canceled. But the 8:11 was still running, which meant I would get to Aubagne in time to catch the 8:40 bus, only being an hour late for work (my second week, woohoo! That could be a record!) So I waited for the 8:11, only to then see a sign that it would be ten minutes late. Okay, can still make it.
Then 8:21 came and went, no train. They then said it was canceled and the next train would be the 8:48. But this is a direct train, so I would get to Aubagne in enough time, if not to catch the bus when it leaves the train station, at least to catch it on the loop. That time came and went, and now I am starting to get nervous that I won’t even make the 9:00 bus. Finally the train came, at 8:51. I figured I could still catch it if it went direct. But nope, it stopped at the three smaller stations (La Pomme, St. Marcel, and La Penne sur Huveane) because of any commuters who needed to go (or leave from) those stops. So I got into Aubagne about 9:10, too late to catch the bus. I called my work and asked if someone could come pick me up with my tail between my legs. One of the guys came and fetched me, so I was a whopping hour and a half late to work. Yikes. That entire week not a day went by that I did not have some problem with the train, either going to work or going home. The other option is to take a bus, which is about a 20 minute walk from our apartment, leaves three times per hour, and takes about 40 minutes. Still no guarantee that you will catch the Aubagne bus on it’s once per hour run though.
The picture above is a pamphlet from the SNCF that I picked up in the middle of strike week.
Basically, it says "With the TER, no more stress!" Yeah!
One thing I find odd about French bathroom habits is the way that they respond when someone knocks on the door or when knocking on the door (to find out if there is someone inside) in a public restroom.
What they usually say is
"Il y a quelqu'un?"
Is there somebody?
Then the response is
"Il y a quelqu'un."
There is somebody.
I haven't made an in-depth study (that will come after my book of cheese). When I do, I will call it "French Bathroom Habits". That will be a best-seller that one.
I just find it strange. Even if you don't knock and are opening up the door they shriek the same thing, only with more urgency. There is somebody!
Now Americans usually say something along the lines of "Just a minute" or "I will be out in a minute" or "I'm in here." Are the french distancing themselves with the impersonal usage from the act of eliminating? Which would be strange considering how preoccupied they are by it. The question of how are you "ça va?" comes from the "How are things (flowing)?"
For children, it consists of attaching a paper fish on the back of people one wants to mock. "April fish!" is also the exclamation as one is discovered, or to warn the victim of a joke, or that the story that has just been told is false.
It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. Perhaps there's something about the time of year, with its turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to lighthearted celebrations
This custom to do jokes is found in many countries, although not always with fish:
The British preserved their April Fool's Day (certain Scottish speak also Gowk or of Cuckoo), the Germans have their Aprilscherz, and this custom exists also in Belgium, Canada, Italy, the United States, Switzerland, and even Japan.
In France, at the beginning of the 20th century, one sent oneself pretty post cards all decorated with fish. One wrote oneself, for this occasion, warm messages and wishes."
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