The French are not known for their customer service.
Over the course of the last 3 ½ years that I have lived in France, I have had to MOURN and accept that reality. I say mourn because that is what it has felt like. The heartache, the pain, the “Why can’t you still exist?” that have come because of something that I miss on a regular basis.
Today, was no different, yet completely different.
My husband and I ordered our groceries online yesterday evening, as we do most weeks, so that they would be ready for pick up in the morning. When all goes well, I drop off the kids at 8:30, I am at the store at 8:45, and back home by 9:00 to unload.
When I showed up in the garage to pick up my groceries, no one was there. I rang and rang and got nothing. I texted my husband to ensure that the order had in fact gone through (a mistake we have made before) and he texted back to say yes, he double checked. “This is so annoying,” I responded.
I drove the car out of the garage, up the ramp, and parked in front so that I could talk to someone at the welcome desk. The woman who greeted me called someone and assured me that I could go back down.
So, back in my car I went, and back down to the garage to ring the bell a second time. I waited. I waited. I waited some more. No one.
So, what did I do?
I drove BACK up the ramp, parked again, and walked back inside. There was no one at the front desk now, so I waited a few minutes before saying, “Bonjour,” fairly loudly. The same woman came down the stairs. I explained (in as nice a tone as I muster) that again there was no one there, and that I was feeling rather annoyed because it wasn’t the first time this had happened. I also explained that there was a reason I used the Drive because it was easier and more time efficient, yet this experience was neither.
She apologized and quickly walked away to find someone rather than call them. She came rushing back and assured me that there was someone there.
Back in the car I went, and drove back down to the garage for the THIRD time, all the while Harriet (my empathetic side) and Rhonda (my judgmental side) were having this conversation in my head.
RHONDA: Jesus christ, this is so annoying! It shouldn’t be this hard!
HARRIET: I know that you are feeling annoyed, but being annoyed isn’t going to change anything.
RHONDA: Maybe it will change if I shop somewhere else! What’s the point of having a service to help families, when the service doesn’t work?
HARRIET: It sounds like you are wishing this was easier.
RHONDA: Damn right I want it to be easier. Plus I want them to recognize that they have completely wasted my time.
HARRIET: So you want to be acknowledged and valued for your time.
As I approach the pick up location yet again, I see a manager there holding a bouquet of flowers. As I pull in to the parking spot and get out, he approaches me with the outstretched bouquet to apologize.
I didn’t get my time back or the ease I wanted, but I did get acknowledgement.
As I drove away with my trunk full of groceries and the bouquet of flowers on the seat next to me, I remembered this:
Your stress and annoyance doesn’t come from what is...it comes from how you think things are SUPPOSED TO BE.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.