Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Back To London

Paris, Gare du Nord, 5pm. We are queuing at the Paul boulangerie in the Eurostar terminal. We want to buy some bread and French pastries before going back home after after a quick trip to visit family. It is now or never, because our Eurostar is leaving in 20 minutes, and the boarding has already started. There are 3 or 4 persons before us. It should be fine.

As it turns out, I spoke too soon. It isn’t fine. I had forgotten about Gallic service. Silly old me. Basically, the two young shop assistants couldn’t care less about their clients. They don’t hurry up, they keep chatting to each other, and they are taking their own sweet time. They are in their late teens, maybe 20. I am not very good at guessing ages anyway; I only know that they would consider me to be old.

One of the assistants eventually serves the next client, a young woman. There is something about her which mesmerises him. He keeps looking intensely at her face. She is about the same age than him and has long, blonde hair. He is totally under her charm. She asks for a few pains au chocolat. He gives her some free chouquettes, carefully wrapped in a brown paper bag. She can’t find her purse to pay. He tells her to go to the end of the till, and dutifully follows her. He patiently waits for her to empty her bag; and tries to get her to look back at him. She eventually finds her purse, but doesn’t have any cash. She leaves the lovingly-prepared bag on the till. The shop assistant seems sad, and gazes at her. I am getting angrier by the minute. Surely he isn’t getting paid to hit on girls while he is working. There is also something strangely sickening in watching this lazy guy being struck by love. Or lust. I don’t care, I just want my bread.

He doesn’t move, and doesn’t seem to want to serve the two Japanese girls standing right in front of him; his colleague is fighting with the coffee machine. I will not be able to get my bread if I want to catch my train. I leave empty-handed and head back to London. How did I put up with Gallic service when I was in France? I can’t remember. What about you, how do you put up with bad service?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London