dimanche, octobre 01, 2006

Like Chicks to the Nest

Like jet-lagged, confused, needy chicks.

Now, I'm making an exception by blogging about work since it was pretty much my entire day on Sunday, but I'm going to have to be rather circumspect about precise details and particular events. Unfortunately, this will make for a rather short post (I know, I never write short posts), but you can fill the rest in with your imagination.

Unlike saturday morning's eventless let-down, Sunday morning started off almost immediately with student arrivals. I was woken up by my cell phone ringing: there were two arrivals downstairs. I went downstairs, helped the recently-arrived students fill out their paperwork, and then gave them some more paperwork from the Centre and showed reminded them of the meeting/tour at 4pm. There were almost 20 coming in today, and all of them would follow a similar routine. However, their arrivals were perfectly spaced so that my day was a continuous flow of arrivals, paperwork, and explanations.

This was also the first of October, which marks la rentrée proper for university students in Paris. One week from today, they will be taking classes. Thus, in addition to the 20 kids arriving from Chicago, the residence staff were dealing with another 60 or so students arriving from pretty much everywhere in the world. It was a madhouse. The staff endured the barrage with admirable skill and good nature, but the day took its toll on everyone.

Add to this the fact that we had a meeting/tour at 4pm. We were going to tour the building, tour the neighborhood, and then hit one of the subway stations to buy cartes oranges (monthly metropasses) with all of the new students. Normally, this sort of thing would happen the day after all the students arrived, but the first of the month fell on a Sunday and classes start on Monday, so there wasn't much we could do but lug their jet-lagged asses everywhere. Unfortunately, having the tour on the same day as the arrivals meant that people on late or delayed flights missed out on the tour. In the end, I think there were about 5 or so who missed the tour entirely (this came back to bite me Monday morning).

The tour itself was mostly fine. I gave them a thorough tour of the building, introduced them to the building staff, walked them around the neighborhood, and then headed for the métro station. Rather than go to the nearest station, we had walked one station further so that we could use the photo booths for the pictures they needed on their cartes oranges. The photo-taking went fine, and the purchases of cartes oranges went fine as well...

...but the station was out of identity cards. The carte orange pass is actually a combination of a laminated ID card that you always keep, and a little "coupon" that looks just like a ticket. The coupon you buy afresh every month or week (depending on what you buy), and the important part is that you always have to write the ID number from your ID card on the coupon, so that it's non-transferrable; if you fuck this up or fail to do it and you're caught in one of their random contrôles, you're up for a very, very, very steep fine. So the lack of ID cards at the station was a problem. I didn't want to risk letting 20 students ride the métro the next morning without matching ID cards. Imagine the mess if they all get caught. Instead, we walked back to the closer subway station, where I got in line to ask for carte orange IDs. The line-up was eternal and I couldn't see from where I was standing whether the ticketperson had run out of ID cards as well. Also, since it was the first of the month, everybody in the neighborhood was also buying their cartes oranges; tempers flared and lines sprawled, but eventually I got to the front of the line and got all the ID cards I needed. Next quarter, I think I'll stockpile them.

As we approached home, most of the students began to realize that almost everything does close on Sunday here. Most of them had nothing in their fridge, no hangers in their closet, and no towels (although some thought of packing that). The only way they were going to get food was to hit a restaurant or possibly McDonald's. Some of them shrugged it off, steeled themselves for a night of "roughing it" and began to make dinner plans. A few were dismayed, and would do that passive-agressive thing that drives me nuts, where you complain about a particular circumstance in the presence of someone (but not directly to them) and then wait expectantly: "It sucks that I don't have hangers." Pause. Significant stare. To be fair, though, while some seemed to expect me to pull a fully-stocked fridge out of my ass, it's also possible that they were just hoping that I would suddenly remember the location of a 24-hour store if they just asked the right question.

In the end, it wasn't a catastrophically bad day. It wasn't even frustrating. It was just long and tiring and occasionally annoying. Despite the complications, most of the students were very friendly, very grateful, and well-behaved.

2 commentaires:

leo a dit…

"Hangers? I've got your hangers. RIGHT HERE!!!!!" (as you yank them out of your ass)

LMGM a dit…


The ass is not a good place to store large objects. Unless you're into that sort of thing. In which case there is probably a club dedicated to it somewhere in Paris.