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Interlude – Conversations with French Bureaucracy

October 26, 2010
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Me: Hello! I bought a ticket for the 15h24 to Milan but I can’t work out how to get the machine to give it to me! Can you help?

Bored SNCF Employee: Do you have a code?

Me: Yes! [Gives bored SNCF employee the code.]

Bored SNCF Employee: Sorry, you don’t have a ticket.

Me: Erm, I’m pretty sure I do…

Bored SNCF Employee: [wearily] What’s your surname?

Me: [Spells unusual surname in flawless French, enunciating very clearly]

Bored SNCF Employee: Sorry, nothing by that name.

Me: Erm, I’m pretty sure there is…

Bored SNCF Employee: [Turns computer screen round] See, nothing by [thing-which-is-close-to-my-unusual-surname-but-NOT-ACTUALLY-MY-NAME-WHICH-I-JUST-SPELT-VERY-CLEARLY-FOR-HER].

Me: Erm, it’s actually spelt [Repeats self, slowly and clearly].

Bored SNCF Employee: Oh, yeah, you’re booked onto the 15h24 to Milan. [Prints ticket. Hands over ticket. Pause.]

Me: Is it definitely running today?

Bored SNCF Employee: No. There’s a strike on. There aren’t any trains running in France at all.

Me: Erm, I read about the strike, but Rail Europe told me the 15h24 was running. Apparently it’s been running every day throughout the strike.

Bored SNCF Employee: [Checks piece of paper.] Oh, yeah, it is running. Bon voyage.

———–

Bored SNCF Employee then informed me I was at the wrong station, so I forgave her and felt a bit less smug.

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