Yes, I know there are only seven, but my recent experiences here in Paris convince me that an eighth circle is badly needed. Suffice it to say that for the last thirty-six hours, I have done very little besides trying to get my television and phone to work. Yesterday, I walked [in some cases a long way] four times to two different offices of the local cable company, called Orange [previously, when it was owned by the state and worked, it was called FranceTelecom.] In the first office, on the right bank, while I was waiting an hour to be received by a technical expert, I noticed a sign on the wall that said [in French, of course] roughly that abusive language and threats directed at employees would be treated as a criminal offense and would be dealt with harshly. "That's odd," I thought idly. When I went to the second Orange office, here on the Left Bank, I noticed the same sign, at roughly the same time that I was growing uncontrollably angry at the dismissive, unfriendly, unhelpful response of a woman working there whom I have had run-ins with before.
And then it struck me. Everyone in France must be so furious at Orange employees that they have become the objects of perpetual abuse -- hence the signs. Ordinarily, as you know, my sympathies are with the workers, but I have my limits. The extra level of Hell would be full up if I had my way.
After an Internet search I signed up for International Service on my cellphone, but I was unable to complete a local Paris call. I had been given a number to call for a "code" with which I could persuade the wretched woman in the local store to exchange my television decoder box for a new one -- apparently what I need. Two lengthy calls to very helpful Verizon ladies in the United States later, and with some additional complications to arcane for this blogsite, I was able to call the number. Alas, by now it was 5:01 p.m. here in Paris, and a cheerful English language recording told me the office closed at five. It will reopen on Monday at nine a.m. It seems there is nothing for it but to spend the weekend working on my next Kant lecture.
Oh, did I mention that yesterday morning, I saw the two little batobuses Yves Montand and Jean Gabin at their accustomed mooring? Some things in Paris can be relied upon.