Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have been locked in a death struggle with FranceTelecom, my telephone/internet/television provider, in an effort to actually get something on my TV set beside a message that says, in French, "Welcome to Orange [FranceTelecom's new name for itself], Please be patient for several moments."
I have made five trips to the Orange "boutique" on Boulevard St. Michel, forming a strong personal bond with Jean-Francois Bucci, the young English speaking salesman. I have swapped out my old "decodeur" for a new one, and swapped that one out for another new one. I have unplugged the system and replugged it, I have ascertained the correct way to insert my personal card in the decoder box [a card which has, from an American's point of view, the rather unfortunate name "maligne TV," which in French means "my TV line" but in English sounds suspiciously like "malign TV," which fits perfectly my experience.] I have been told, variously, that I need a new decoder box [done, twice], that FranceTelecom is doing work on the lines and will be done on July 9th [apparently a total fabrication invented by the telephone technician I reached on the "English" phone line], and that the computer thinks I have a high definition TV set, which I do not have, and so is sending the wrong signal to me.
Today, one week after swearing a blood oath not to relent until I get something, anything, on my TV set besides that irritating message, I unpacked the new decoder box, installed it, waited while it booted itself up twice, entered my ten digit client number and the last four digits of my nine digit account number, and --- IT WORKS. I have triumphed over the most intransigent redoubt of French bureaucratic incompetence. I am exultant, proud, humble, grateful, relieved, exalted.
There remains only one very small problem. With one hundred sixty-two channels at my disposal, there is not a single one worth watching. Oh well. Nothing is perfect.