16km running today, and just under 20km on the bike. Both a bit slow, but it’s all about the distance. Also spent most of the day running round the pig fields i) trying to stop piglets escaping (there are 10 in total) ii) trying to stop pigs having sex.
The French have a saying “le client et roi“. Literally “the customer is king”.
Considering the French beheaded all their royalty long ago, the phrase has a certain truth to it. This was once again demonstrated today in the local opticians as The Glasses Saga entered its second phase. If you haven’t been reading the blog I recommend going back and reading the post with Daniel Powter’s mug at the top of it. If you don’t know what Daniel Powter looks like then just scroll down until you see a man who looks like a Freemans catalogue model with a beanie hat on. If the hat is black and the guy looks like he might be best suited to modelling footwear then it’s me. If not, you’re there. Read that, and then come back here.
I had a certain sense of foreboding this morning. Yes, for sure, I’d been told to turn up at 11am sharp on Thursday to pick up my new pair of glasses. Yes, for sure, I’d double and triple checked this and also told them to phone me if there was a delay. I’d covered all the bases. I had a bit of paper with a date and time on it, and that’s as good as a blood oath in France.
However, there was still a small flickering nugget of doubt in my mind. Not a linguistic doubt. Not a doubt that perhaps my average French had failed to get the message across. But a flickering doubt that if the French still had an opportunity to make my life a misery they would take it.
So, off I set to the local town. It’s local in the sense it’s 10km away. I debated running, but decided instead to take the bike. It was a fine day. My worries melted away. This was the sort of day when NEW GLASSES WOULD BE GOT.
I felt a swelling confidence.
At least I hoped it was my confidence.
I almost bounded into the optician. The French words and phrases for the conversation ahead had been prepared mentally (“glasses” “last week” “eleven o’clock” “Thursday” “brilliant, thanks!” “oh, they look lovely!” “thanks for all your assistance!“).
I was ready.
Ready for a world with the brightness and contrast controls set back to zero. Ready to see again! Whee!
The first tinge of self-doubt hit me when the original “optician” (or glasses sales representative as I suppose you need to call them, considering they can’t actually do eye tests) avoided me when I came in and ran off to hide in a back room somewhere.
10 minutes passed. Eventually she was forced to reappear and I collared her.
“I’m Mr Thomas” I said cordially “here for my glasses.”
I smiled in a way that suggested I was unhappy with the six day delay, but I was willing to put that behind us in the spirit of moving forwards towards a new situation where I was once again the owner of non-tinted glasses.
G.S.R’s face contorted like a dog sucking a polo.
“Ahhh” she said, like the air forlornly being let out of a child’s bike tyre.
“My glasses? ” I continued… “You said they would be ready today.” My smile had cracked slightly. I sensed something was wrong.
The polo was pushed around a little more. “Ahhhh…” (second tyre deflated) “…the glasses….” she said.
“The glasses….?” I prompted.
“…. they are not ready yet….the glass has not arrived in the post….”
Silence. A long silence. The Earth rotates. Civilizations rise and fall. Galaxies move apart. The sun begins to collapse.
She speaks again “…it will be ready on Saturday.”
“Saturday?” I say. The words croak from my mouth almost reflexively.
“…. Or maybe the week after. We will call you when they are ready.”
My mouth flapped like a goldfish. I searched for words, but none were there. So I just walked out (ss you can see confrontation isn’t one of my character traits. Mute acceptance of shitty things happening to me is more my style). As I went back out into the street my first thought was “At least it’s sunny! Maybe people won’t stare at my sunglasses!”
As I walked the short distance back to my bike I was proved wrong once again.
Seeing as the day was going so badly, I figured I’d go for another run after dark tonight, in the sunglasses and luminous cape, so I could terrify the local OAPs.
I figure if France is going to make me miserable then I’m going to make a few old French people terrified in return.