Friday night (2 days before Christmas), I made the mistake of wanting to go to Carrefour to pick up some groceries. No Christmas shopping mind you, just groceries to make it through the next few days.
Apparently, the French are no different than Americans when it comes to Christmas shopping. I guess these guys like to wait until the very last minute to “get her done” like we do. I swear everyone and their mother and grandmother was shopping that night at Carrefour. My gosh, you should have seen the parking lot! Now, the French do have something going for them that Americans do not. There was no pushing, shoving, total impatience, grabbing things out of other peoples hand or trampling your fellow Frenchman.
Here is what shopping in America looks like and I gotta tell you this time of year makes me pretty embarrassed that I’m American.
The French on the other hand were pretty civilized; it was just that the store was fuller and more crowded than I had ever seen it before.
When Dude and I drove into the parking lot, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. You see, Dude has this thing about his car. He thinks more of Benoit (and is more protective of him) than he is of me! Every five seconds while we were trying to find a place to park he kept saying “Oh my God, the car is going to get wrecked here, we have no chance!” Seriously, folks, that’s all I heard from him the whole time. You know what I was doing? Rolling my eyes. He has to be the biggest drama queen when it comes to this car. Now, it’s not that I don’t agree with him, I’m just not as obsessed with it as he is and for goodness sake it’s a freakin’ Renault “everyone has the same exact car” Megane! It’s not the cream of the crop or anything. Also, I constantly have to remind him that we live in France and to look around at all the cars here. There all banged up and falling apart cuz the drivers in Provence are completely nuts. If he didn’t want to be worried about dings and dents then we should have bought an old piece of junk and called it a day!
But, since we didn’t, I gotta keep listening to his OCD on Benoit and at this time of year (and summer vacation) it’s the worst.
Finally we found a spot and as his luck was good that night, the spot next to us was available too and just as another driver was coming around the corner to take the spot next to us do you know what Dude did? He parked diagonally taking up both spots so he could protect the car! Then we had to quickly exit the car and get as far away as possible from it so that no other driver would scream and yell at us for taking up two spaces at this busy time of year!
Once, in the store we were hit with a massive amount of shoppers all trying to load up on goodies and last minute presents. Then all of a sudden we hear this voice over some load speaker that sounds like a game show host. Guess what? That’s exactly what it was! There was this guy in a 3 piece suit walking around Carrefour with a microphone making all these announcements about specials and goodies you could win. I seriously felt like I was transported back in time to my childhood of the good ol’ days. This is something that you would have found in the 70’s in The States! Dude kept saying he felt like he was at a Telethon! Ha Ha. That’s exactly what it was, a freakin’ Carrefour Telethon. We passed this guy several times while shopping and he was in his own little world walking around with his microphone and announcing crazy specials of the day! It was a bit weird.
The other fun exciting thing was the meat and fish market. Those guys behind the counter were haggling and yelling out their prices and specials of the day (and I mean YELLING!). You could hear each of them trying to yell over the next guy about what they had to offer. I admit that part was pretty interesting, but at first I thought it was a fight that was occurring in the store. I could only hear the yelling but couldn’t see where it was coming from. Then when we finally made it over to that area of the store, we could see it was just market antics going on!
As we made our way down the store to put the few things we needed into the cart, we stopped by the gift card section. Now I know I said we weren’t there for any gift shopping, but I figured while we were at this section I would pick up a 50€ ITunes card for Tinki to add to her stocking. That’s seriously the best gift to give a teenager. Right about this time Dude starts stressing about the car. I kid you not, he’s telling me that we gotta go cuz he is worried about the car looking like it had been in a serious accident by the time we saw it again! So I grabbed the ITunes card then headed toward the check out.
I told Dude to go stand in line and wait cuz I wanted to use the bathroom. Now the reason I’m telling you this is because the bathroom that used to be in the store wasn’t there anymore! Gone. Completely and utterly gone and I mean even the built out area where it use to be! There wasn’t even a sign to tell you that they moved it or that it was going to be redone. It was just gone. Great, holiday shopping in a major store and no bathroom for the customers! Viola!
I rejoined Dude in line and let him know about the nonexistent bathroom and he just gives me that “typical” look. So we get up to the register and the cashier starts scanning our items. Then she gets to the ITunes card and it won’t scan. She tries it a couple of times and then says to me that it doesn’t work like I’m suppose to do something about it. I take off to go get another one and she tries to scan that one and it doesn’t work, either! She tells me again that it won’t scan and gives me a look like she just wants me to forget it and leave. Then a lady that is two clients behind me finds another one. The cashier tries that one and, you got it, the thing won’t scan. So now I’m 0 for 3 and this lady doesn’t even bother calling someone over to fix the issue, cuz it clearly is her issue and not mine, and the line behind me is starting to get longer.
So I decided to go and get 2 ITunes cards at 25€ each and maybe that would work. The first card scans, but guess what?? The second one doesn’t! Can you believe it?! At this point I am now starting to feel bad for all the customers behind me even though it isn’t my fault and I said to the cashier that I would just take the one card and call it a day. I really wanted to tell her that maybe, in the future, in order to sell their ITunes that it would be a good idea to have someone program the bar code into the system before putting the cards out. Then maybe they could sell some! Lame.
When we get to the car, Dude has to give it the once over just to be sure his baby is fine and good for him, it was. Mission accomplished minus an ITunes. Next hurtle was the exiting traffic. This particular Carrefour has everyone merging into one lane and then takes you on a tour of the parking lot, then the adjacent parking lot before allowing you to exit. It sort of feels like Autopia at Disneyland only not fun since no one ever allows anyone else to merge into the exit line!
I can’t believe I actually wanted to go to the store 2 days before Christmas and all for only a baguette, some cheese, some fruits and veggies, chicken and ½ of an ITunes present that wasn’t even on my list. Next year I’ll rethink going just before the holidays.