Monday, June 1, 2009

Journée complet

Some days it just works out. Pop pop pop. It’s a rare day, but it does happen.

Off to Lodeve today, my old gray town pressed against the rise to the Larzac plateau. It’s the sous prefecture of the department of l’Herault which means for any type of official business dealings it’s where you need to go. I suddenly had some business to take care of there, it’s only by coincidence it’s also where I go to see the candy man.

My sweet tooth has been flaring up lately but I’ve been putting off the trip to Lodeve only because it seems far to go just to feed a habit. So I wasn’t that disappointed when I found out I only had two days left before my taxes were due. It’s not that I pay any income tax, but I still need to file the forms. You see my income is so small even the state doesn’t want to be bothered counting it.

It was also an opportunity to change my address on my car matriculation. It’s one of those things I kept putting off for another time. It is also one of those things that one day I find myself getting a ticket I can’t pay for and wondering, again, why I didn’t do earlier. I had tried to do it one other time but the bureau’s steel door automatically swung closed and locked literally before my eyes as I was heading towards it. It was quite impressive, even more so being that this solid black steel door was set in a 10 foot stone wall that ran around the complex of back water bureaucratic offices. There was something medieval about it that rang right.

I won’t mention how French it felt at that moment. I was in it, and again, stunned by that fact. It was 3:45 pm and though the bureau closes at 4:00, the outside door locks down at 3:45 so the functionaries can get out promptly. Extremely efficient in it’s unproductive way. But France isn’t about production, it’s about something else. I had been so close, but never the less would need to come back another time. So much for good intentions and ever more efficient bureau’s.

But today is a different day and the door is wide open. You see, like I said it’s a day where everything works out. I have all my papers and after a polite wait, I step right up to the counter. I give over my papers and the pleasant man behind the glass asks for the photocopies of my documents. Last time I was here they just photocopied them and gave you back your originals. Well this is France so everything doesn’t work out even on the good days.

The new system installs itself slowly and insidiously. It comes up slowly and then one day we wake up and realize we are ensconced within it. Today it was the paper savings that someone in a meeting thought would be a good idea, perhaps it is, I don’t know. In any case I went to the tabac shop across the street and got in line with the other surprised at the new system folk. The guy behind the counter was content, at 50 cents a copy, he has found himself a whole, hitherto unknown revenue source.

I ponied up my 1.50 euro and was back before the man behind the glass in five minutes. I noticed as I re-handed him the papers that my I.D, card didn’t have my updated address. I envisioned the steel door closing again just as I walked up to it. But not today. He smiled. He stamped my papers, stapled them together and told me to wait at the other window to be called. A few minutes later, my name was called and the new updated car matriculation was in my hand. Errand one - check.

I walked from there down the street to the maison d’impots, or tax house. I had nothing but my name and a question - How do I go about this task. A few minutes wait and I was before the lady at the information counter. I posed my question, she asked my name. Then she looked for a file and not finding anything put my name in the computer and out came a tax form with all my pertinent information enclosed. She said ‘here you are’.

I took the form to a table, corrected the address to where I currently live, and then became confused with the rest. I had no response appropriate for many of the questions posed. I went back up to the lady and explained my predicament. She laughed and said ‘it is all filled in already, just correct your address and sign the form’. I did. She took the form, stapled it together and said ‘drop it in the box’ which she pointed to. I did. Taxes complete for 2008. Errand two - check.

‘Sweet’ I thought as I held the door open for an incoming lady. I tipped my psychological chapeau and walked out into the sun. I called the local candy man and as luck would have it he was home. Who doesn’t love a treat when you are already feeling good.

I strolled across town and an hour later was back in the sun and still feeling good, if not better. Errand three - check.

I left Lodeve, went back home, ate lunch and took a nap. The afternoon was beginning. In the morning when I had seen that my I.D. card wasn’t updated with my new address, I had forgotten that I had already made the demand to change it, it only hit me as I woke from my nap. The bureau was just up the street from the crib at the local mayors office. Off I went. The bureau was crowded and I had to wait ten minutes but when I got to the desk the woman remembered me. It sometimes pays to talk like an alien. She stepped in the back and came out with my new I.D. all updated and shiny. Not only that she apologized for the delay. Check on errand number four.

It’s still only three o’clock and so I headed to the local hardware to purchase some material for the renovation job that is about to start on the old house we have acquired. Same thing. In - out and materials loaded up in a jiffy. I put in a few hours of work and got everything ready to begin the real work the next morning. I arrived back home at seven. But there was one more surprise to my day.

At nine there was a knock on the door. It is my vigneron, he stopped by to give me some money that he owed me, and if that wasn’t enough he tells me he won’t have time to harvest his cherry tree and that if we want we can take what we want. They are ripe and need to be picked quickly. ‘Oh yeah’ I tell him.

When he leaves my woman and I have a taste of the bon-bons from the candy man, recount the day, go to bed; make love and happily fall asleep. Journée complet. Some days it just all works out.

1 comment:

  1. happy man like a candy man to have complete day