Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm someone's client.

I arrived at my apartment building this morning (returning from the boulangerie with a big bag of croissants) at the same time as my postal carrier. She's very friendly and I said hello and let her into the hallway, where there are mailboxes for the eight apartments in the building. "Actually, I think I have something for you," she said. For me? "Yes, this package. You're Madame Accidental Parisian, no?" Yes, I am. But how did she know that? She laughed. "Ah, but we have met before, Madame! I have an excellent memory for faces." Yes, I said, but didn't she deliver mail to hundreds of apartments? "Ahh, Madame," she smiled, "but my clients are my clients."

I was delighted: this is the first time that someone has actually recognised me as belonging in the place where I live. And it's no surprise that this came from my postal carrier: I learned many years ago that they know everything. Think about it: just from sorting your mail they probably know where you bank, where you shop and spend your money, approximately when your birthday is, what holidays you celebrate, and where your friends and family go on vacation. In my case, when I was home visiting my parents from college, I got chatting with their postal carrier and she asked me which daughter I was: the one who was going to college in the fall or the one who had been in Ireland?

In any case, MCM tells me that we were lucky to get the package at all, since there is a strike on in our regional postal sorting office. Mais oui, bien sur. There you have it, folks: the two faces of French public services.

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