Tomorrow I will walk over to the 6th arrondissement to try to find a friend of my friend Ivan . The guy runs a bookshop called the San Francisco Bookstore . American guy from San Francisco who has been living in Paris for about ten years . ” He likes cognac ,” Ivan told me over the phone , ” and I think that may have something to do with why he stayed over there “.
I told Ivan about our troubles with our ATM cards . Ada and I had expected to get our cash easily from ATM machines . We’ve fairly recently used the same cards in Poland and Ireland to get cash . Ah , but this is France ! We tried several different ATM machines at first , tried different amounts , and tried a few different banks . Nothing . So we thought that we could resolve the problem by talking to someone at a bank . Ah , but this is France ! We were told at different banks that they only serve customers of that particular bank . I walked over to the branch of one bank that specializes in international commerce . Supposedly . Again , nothing .
To be fair to France , I finally called our local bank branch in Arcadia, California and was told that we should have a newer version of the ATM card ; that our cards won’t work . I had previously called the corporate number collect three times and laid out the problem with the cards we had with us . They said that our cards should work almost anywhere in the world ; sent us an e-mail to confirm that . They checked the card numbers and could see no problem “from our end” , they said . Must be those French .
Ivan mentioned that he doesn’t like France ; doesn’t like their food ; doesn’t like their customs ; doesn’t like the people . He’s opinionated and not shy about saying what he thinks . Well , for example , he told me a few months ago that the entire economy of the US would collapse by Christmas and that would lead to world chaos . That didn’t happen by Christmas and I asked him about that . ” In February ,” he said . I’m wondering what he will say when March rolls around .
So far I find the French people to be friendly , the ones I encounter while walking Ada’s sister’s dog around rue by rue by boulevard by rue by avenue . Except for the guy who flattened the tires of three cars parked outside our window within the enclosed courtyard a couple of nights ago . Ada watched him do it , stabbing the tires . He won’t make my friendly list . And I’d leave the bankers off , too , French or American . One bank woman was very friendly , though , as she explained at length that she couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to help us with our ATM card issue . I kind of think she enjoyed that little conversation . Maybe it made her day ; she could tell her husband all about those pitiable Americans when she got home that evening and the two of them could have a little laugh .
I’ll tell you right now that I’m not nearly sophisticated enough to live in Paris . I feel funny wearing that big scarf around my neck , for one thing . And also I couldn’t sit , especially in the cold , at a tiny little round table outside a cafe sipping espresso with the tiny little cup and saucer keeping me company like we’re all playing doll house with tiny furniture and utensils and trying to look adult and cultured and sophisticated to the passers-by. That seems to be the French way but it’s not my way .That’s another reason I could never live here . I’m just an unsophisticated styleless lout with nothing to prove to anyone .
Maybe I’m being unfair . C’est la vie . I think that means : ” So , sue me !” in American .