Trying not to be a tourist
We knew we could manage to buy food in supermarkets ( often no language exchange required) and to buy bread from the boulangerie...but actually negotiating over model, price, spin speed and delivery of a French washing machine, in French, from a French electrician, seemed another prospect altogether.
Monsieur Chaubert, the electrician, was delightful but spoke at the rate of a gattling gun. Various requests using the word "lentement" did mean we finally worked out what he was saying about price, tax, water and energy efficiency etc. and the deal was done. We even managed to explain how the Marie and the Post Office disagreed about our address, one saying we lived at number 5, the other insisting it is number 8. The last person we had explained the confusion to had merely said " Welcome to France".
We were amazed that he could deliver it straight away, but as we had plans to try to get the phone and internet organised by visiting Fr. Telecom in Carcassonne, we said we would not be home for a few hours. delivery was arranged for 4.00 -4.30pm.
So, we set off for Carcassonne, thrilled that our first non touristy encounter had been successful. Further thrilled occurred at the Fr Telecom offices. The man in front of us in the fairly long queue was told to wait for an English speaking assistant, whereas our French was deemed acceptable enough to be dealt with by a non English speaking assistant. Again, some repetition, some sign language and lots of French, led us to set up our French landline and our internet connection. Our pleasure at the ease of the transaction faded a little on being told, as we were leaving, ....it would take up to 15 days to activate.
Oh well, in the scheme of things and after what we had been told of the strong possibility that the process would take hours of waiting, discussions and more waiting, we still felt good.
Our address caused some chaos again though. Neither 5 nor 8 were recognised, but then neither was our road.... the nearest we could get was the road that our road comes off from.... that seemed to satisfy them, but I have no idea how anything they send by post will ever reach us.
We returned to the house planning a quick swim before the washing machine was to be delivered. However a somewhat cross Frenchman phoned us ( on the mobile ) ...landline still 15 days away. We thought he said he was lsot, and couldn't find the road or the house number . Mark went off to look for him while I tried to explain the confusion over the phone.
Mark and a white van man appeared minutes later. We worked out that he wasn't lost, he had tried to deliver at 2pm. We explained we had been told 4pm. he huffed and puffed and eventually manhandled the washing machine up the front steps and into the utlility room. 10 minutes later it was installed and he went to leave. We suddenly realised that perhaps Monsieur Chaubert had said he would arrange delivery for "quatorze"... not "quatre heures" as we had thought. So I explained this to our delivery man, who did actually smile at this stage and said it didn't matter...... so a mostly successful day, with a little hiccup.