Monthly Archives: May 2011

This Time It’s FedEx and Volcanoes

FedEx has gone and done it again. They have totally pissed me off. I was told that the strikes had ended last week and all was good. We even got some packages delivered at the end of the week. Well, this week they decided, “Nope, strike again!”  Now I am sitting around waiting for some time sensitive material and they don’t even care.  As punishment, I did not ship with them this week. That’ll teach ‘em to mess with me.

I can hear them now during negotiations, “If Ashley doesn’t ship using FedEx, our company can’t survive! Get her done!” Well, I hear that in my own kingdom, anyway.

So negotiations are on and in the mean time my packages were diverted to Germany. That diversion costs me a whole day!

Now, I not only have FedEx to deal with, but also the volcano in Iceland. Granted it is not as bad as last year and the ash clouds have not reached us, but they should be in France by the end of the week. No shipments thanks to possible airport closures.

I am on pins and needles (literally) to see what awaits me for the rest of the week!

But the worst is that due to no packages arriving, that cute FedEx guy didn’t make a trip to see me. I guess next week should be super special for me then!

Benoit The Model

Well, I have been getting a lot of flack for not putting a picture of Benoit in the post I wrote about him, even though there is one on my “About” page.

But to make everyone happy, here ya go.

Boy the camera just love him.

Benoit

Benoit is the new love of my life. No, he is not some hot, looking French guy, he is my Renault Megane. He is the newest member of my family and I think he is the cutest car ever. Moreover, he takes me on the most awesome road trips I could ever imagine.

The journey to getting Benoit was rather difficult, though. Once we landed in FranceLand, we had to rent a car for a while. Well, a while turned into 7 or 8 weeks. I was spending so much time at the office (including all evenings and weekends) that we just didn’t have time to shop around. On top of the fact that we had no idea what cars were good to buy here.

We started doing research about a month before buying Benoit. This was no easy task, the cars here are very expensive and if the manufacturer is an import, they are more expensive than what you could buy it for in the states (and I mean by thousands!).  Also, every single dealership was advertising prices that were good only if you were turning in your old vehicle. This didn’t apply to us.

We went back and forth on if we were going to buy a Toyota, Ford or Renault. We thought for sure that we had settled on a Toyota Yaris, it was a little pricey but the quality was good and we were familiar with the brand (we had a Tacoma and Camry in the states). The problem was, once we saw and drove the car, we all agreed that it was a little too small for the three of us. Going up in size, buying the Corolla, was too expensive. So we continued to shop around. We must have been to 15 different dealerships to learn about all the different cars and the price points.

Finally about a month later, we found a dealership in Arles (which is quiet far from us) who had a Hyundai I30 that Dude seemed interested in. So we took off one morning and scoped it out. It was nice, but the color was awful on the car. So we took a lunch break, searched a little more and found that exact same car in white, but in Cavaillon. This was about another 45 minute drive for us. Once we got there, we proceeded to look around the entire car lot to find the darn thing. We couldn’t spot it anywhere! Maybe it was sold already and we went there for nothing! We made a second pass around the car lot. Nope, not there. We finally went in to talk to a sales agent. Do you know what they told us? They said, “Yes, we have the car still, but it isn’t here. It’s at our other dealership in Pertius, which is about an hour from here.” Really? Why didn’t you just say that in your ad, dufus??

Well, Dude really wanted to test drive the Hyundai I30 so we got directions on how to get to Pertius and off we went. An hour later we got lost in the town and ended up driving up and down the same street 5 or 6 times. Finally, we stopped to ask directions (it was me who did this, since all dudes don’t know how to ask directions). Once clear on where the dealership was we were able to find it in about 5 minutes! I can’t believe it was just down the street and we couldn’t seem to find it. Actually, never mind, I do believe it.

Into the dealership we went. The sales guy came out to meet us. He knew we were coming thanks to the dumb “I advertised this car, but don’t have it” dealership letting him know we were on our way. So he showed us the nice, white Hyundai I30 that my husband drove ALL over the south of France for and guess what? It had a big ding in the side door. What the heck? I was so pissed (and so was Dude), but he wanted to drive it anyway so we did. He went first then I took a spin. He really liked the car, but I wasn’t all that thrilled with it. I thought it was too big and it felt clumsy to drive. Since we couldn’t decide, we both took another spin. I was not at all satisfied, but Dude was still seriously considering it. He really liked it and said we could wheel and deal due to the ding.

I took a gander around the lot and spotted Benoit. He looked really decent and was the same price as the Hyundai I30. The sales guy said it was a great car and had high marks. It was used, but the person was an “oldie” and only had it for a year. It had all the bells and whistles and NO DENTS. Very important!

So off we went for a spin. First Dude, then me. I liked Benoit so much better, so did Tinki. The drive was smoother, no bulking feeling inside, but plenty roomy. Dude was not sold, yet. He decided to take the Hyundai I30 for another tour. Once done, he was really indecisive so we called our friends who live on the west coast of France and asked them their opinion. They told us to go with Benoit. The reason was that he is a Renault and it would be a lot easier to get service since there are Renault dealerships everywhere and the Megane was ranked pretty high on the list of good cars. Viola! So there you go.

Now it was time to do the deal. In the sales agent’s office we had to sign all the paperwork, give up all our personal info and hand over a down payment check. Then this guy asks me when we want to take the car home with us. Huh, can you repeat the question, please?  I, in my naïve American way said, “Right now, of course” (because that’s what happens in the states, duh). In America, once the deal is done, you pay or get a loan, and then you get to leave the lot with your car. HELLO FRANCE!

Here, no way! Of course not. This guy proceeds to tell me that I have to wait 3 days and then come back to get my car! Three days!! Kid you not. I didn’t get. He said they clean it, check all the engine stuff and make it up to speed with some fantastic 100 point system that they just made up to piss people off and not give them their car right away. I just couldn’t believe that after all that (plus the countless hours to get to this dang place) I was going away empty handed!

But, that is exactly what happened. He told us we had to make an appointment to come back! A friggin’ appointment! I am supposed to pay thousands of dollars and he wants me to make a rendez-vous. What, were they going to check my driving record to see if I am worthy of a Renault! Customer service is non-existent, I tell you. So being that I was in France and not America, by gosh, I had to abide by the rules because this guy was not giving up this car.

So off we went leaving poor Benoit without a real home for three whole days!

Three days later we made the long trip back to Pertius with the remaining balance so we could get our little guy. When we got there we got a grand welcome fit for a princess. They had Benoit all cleaned up and under a tent with a “Bienvenue “sign and all. It was ridiculous. The sales guy gave us the 5 centimes tour of the car to be sure we understood everything and asked if we had any questions. Yes, I do have a question, “Are you gonna hassle me today about taking my car home because it isn’t 5pm or something”?? No, I didn’t really say that, but I wanted to. The truth of the matter is that I really like the sales guy I just didn’t like their 3 day waiting period (as if I was buying a weapon or something).

We were finally able to bring our little car home. I love him to pieces. He is super cute, super French looking and he is a real trooper about road trips and hasn’t complained once. That’s the kind of car I like. I guess we will keep him.

Life Without Furniture

Pop Kitsch

This is one of my favorite French Kitsch videos ever! This woman is awesomely insane and she has such original style. The band is called Les Rita Mitsouko and they were hugely popular in the 1980’s. The video is full of crazy outfits, wild hairdos and and bizarre dancing. By the way, Madonna isn’t the only one who can sport the cones!

Word(s) of the week-22 May 2011

Carte Bleue.

In the everyday meaning, a carte bleue, is one’s visa or credit card. For example, when I am at the market, the cashier always asks me how I am paying. I reply, “Par carte bleue”.

But, in France, there is another, hidden, darker meaning to this word.  It is what a man would call his girlfriend or wife since they “spend all his money”.

Time for a scenario.

Two friends meet for a beer and talk about making plans for watching the big game on the weekend.

Guy 1: “Hey, the guys are coming over this weekend to watch the big game, you comin’?”

Guy 2: “Yah, I’ll be there. What time?”

Guy 1: “About 6:00. We’re frying up some burgers before the game.”

Guy 2: “K-Sounds good.” His phone suddenly rings. “Oh merde, c’est ma carte bleue! I gotta go. Her parents are coming over for dinner tonight . I’ll see you this weekend.”

Now, while this is a seemingly funny, and creative, take on words (I doubt anyone in the states would call their girlfriend/wife their “visa” because it just doesn’t sound right) I take some what offense to it. Personally, I don’t spend all my husband’s money. Right now he is a kept man, so he spends mine! Hey, I guess that makes him ma carte bleue. Touché


Work It Grandma

This grandma has had some misguided fashion advice. I think it might be time to give this outfit up to one of the grand kids.

The Arrival Of Our Kitchen

It feels so good when stuff you ordered finally comes. Yaaay, for Boulanger who came through for me. Boy, were we happy when our new refrigerator, washing machine, and oven finally arrived (a week after we ordered it!). Dude went to the apartment to meet the delivery guys and help them out. Things were looking mighty good when they were able to install the fridge and dishwasher but (oh no issues) when it came to the stove, the dang thing wouldn’t fit. You see, we have this cut out underneath the stove and in between two cupboards that is designed for an oven. Now dude is well knowledgeable about how to measure and he did a pretty terrific job.

Then we went to the store, measured all the appliances and made sure what we bought was gonna fit. Well the stupid manufacturer decided to put an extra gizmo on the bottom of the oven, but the guys at Boulanger didn’t leave it on the display model. Guess what we measured! So dude had to run to the local hardware store and try to figure out what to do to make our oven fit. Keeping in mind that this apartment is a rental and we couldn’t go cutting up the owner’s cupboards. In his terrible French he actually found a way to do it! I was so proud of him (I am serious, I really was). When I came home he had everything up and running and we were starting to feel all fancy like, because we had necessities.

We went all hog wild and actually did some real grocery shopping for the first time since we landed here. It felt so good to fill up the fridge, cook a real meal and do some much needed laundry. That night I actually sat at the dining room table, sipped on a glass of wine, and gazed at the lovely site of my new equipped kitchen. I never thought about not having a fridge, washing machine, or oven. Boy, I sure do appreciate the things that make one’s life simpler.

Here is what our kitchen looked like before the necessities.

Voila! Here is what is looks like now!  They are so cute and small.

Next on the waiting list was the arrival of all our stuff from the states. We only had 1 month to go and a real bed awaited me. I couldn’t wait.

Black Toilet Paper

Last night, Tinki was sitting at the table looking through the new LeRoy Merlin catalogue. For those of you who are not familiar with LeRoy Merlin, it is kind of like Home Depot. Each year they come out with a new catalogue to show off their new stuff.

Well Tinki was all consumed by the cool colored toilet paper they were advertising. All of a sudden she says, “Wow, they sell black toilet paper! That’s kind of cool.” I chimed in with, “Hum, that could be interesting.” Then dude said, “Black toilet paper? How would you know if you were successful or not?”

I died laughing for about 20 minutes.

No Fishing

The sign says “Fishing Forbidden”. I guess someone must have tried it. It couldn’t have been to exciting, though.

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