8+10 – real housewife ramblings

14:15. Today is Friday; self-appointed Good Housewifing Day. (Shall I employ proper capitalization throughout this post? Yes. Let’s stick with blogging inconsistency.)

Husband T gets home for the weekend. I like the house to be as clean as possible. However, although I’m usually a whirlwind on Friday’s, I haven’t been that good of a housewife yet today. And now I’m blogging instead! Poor guy. But at least the fire is going, the kitchen/living is tidy and that’s the first room he’ll see. I can do the rest while he’s here. Right now I’m kid-free.

Some ice on the lake yesterday and this morning. And hoarfrost in the fields.

Yesterday, got some necessary banking stuff done. I dread going to appointments like this but somehow they usually turn out to be lovely.

Yesterday I’d forgotten about the appointment, but luckily my second son reminded me when I was picnicking with him and his younger brothers at the lake. (School lunch breaks are long here in France, so sometimes I pick the kids up.)

I had just enough time to race home, get the necessary documents, change out of yoga pants and runners into jeans and boots, drag my really in-need-of-a-wash-looking hair into a bedraggled ponytail and rush back to town for the appointment. I was four minutes late and looking frazzled, but luckily for me, the bank lady was busy talking to a colleague.

So I had a few minutes to chill, and feel ridiculously pleased with myself.

Please note, I had missed last week’s originally scheduled appointment! How ridiculous is that!!!! Seriously, I used to be the queen of organization. Not sure what happened over the past five years or so. Let’s call it creative menopause. Even in sobriety, I seem to at times be more low-functioning, in terms of everyday household tasks, than when I was a party-loving gal.

Finally the bank lady’s colleague exited my bank lady’s office, saying hello to me on the way out, and the bank lady, who we’ll call Sylvia, invited me in.

She had a new haircut, short and choppy and super cute, and I told her I loved it. I think that’s a bit abnormal here in France — to compliment total strangers on their appearance (— Anne — can fill us in?—) but it’s second nature to me, being west-coast Canadian.

Sylvia accepted the compliment very graciously, as do most people I firehose them out to. Then she confided that she’d regretted it so much — she’d cut it so that it could be lower maintenance, but of course it’d turned out to be higher-maintenance.

I commiserated. I’ve chopped my hair off before, only to find out that cowlicky bedhead is not in any way chic. Thus, it’s every single morning with the g-d blowdryer. (I remind myself of this because fall is shedding season, on the wilds of my head, and I’ve been getting a bit scissor-dreamy.)

As Sylvia opened the two new accounts for our eldest sons (they will finally have their own online banking accounts, not possible until now; the bank has changed its policies since the last time I tried), I admired her neat-as-a-pin office, and started to feel very nostalgic for some of my old jobs as receptionist, book-keeper, client services rep and ethical-funds transfers proofreader. Such tidy work, being in an office. You go there, you do the work, you leave, and you leave it behind.

I wondered if there were any jobs open. But I am way too shy to ask, or know how to ask, and anyway I didn’t think they wanted to hire haggard old faded blondes with imperfect French, who somehow forget their original appointment times and then rush in with sawdust from the woodpile all over their winter coats.

But Sylvia was very friendly; actually the most personable and kind and interested person I’ve ever met at that bank, and she was asking me various polite questions and so I volunteered that I admired her setup, and since now the kids were all in school full-time, I sometimes fondly remembered the “good old days” before I left my single life and started working for my husband’s company. I said I imagined it must be quite stress-free. You know how you just babble those stupid little things out of your head before you think? (Oh you don’t? Right, that’s just me then. Oof.)

“Euh, niveau de stresse… je ne sais pas trop,” (“I wouldn’t say that, about the stress”) she said, with a conspiratorial smile. She really was so kind! Then I remembered what it could be like. Certain customers, the ones that think that you are to blame for the corporation’s policies, or at least ones who like to take their anger against them out on you. Yes, it was coming back. “…And then there are the higher-ups, management, all that…” she further hinted.  And then suddenly brightened and said, “But you should apply! Just before you walked in, my manager came in to inform me that they would not be renewing my contract.”

Whaaaaa??????

I wish I could say that left me speechless but me being me, it didn’t. I was shocked, nearly outraged actually, and said so. “Why?” I then asked. “Because I didn’t check the box that said ‘willing to move’ on my contract renewal request,” she answered. “I recently bought a house here, and I can’t just sell it and move up anytime they ask. If you check the box, you have to be willing to pick up and leave within very short notice, possibly within a week or two, and possibly to a location on the other side of the country.”

Again…. whaaaaa??????

This was crazy to me. I know a bit about business — you do NOT let go of a person who has worked with you for at least a year (I remember her from the last time I visited) — whom you’ve trained, who looks and acts professionally — so much so that she maintained total composure through our meeting, *even* after finding out that she’d essentially been laid off — only to start all over again with someone new. In a very small town with slim pickings. What on earth?!!! Client reps are the face of the company. And this particular lady was so friendly, professional and awesome!

Why am I mentioning all this. Not sure, except perhaps to show the awesomeness of people out there. This bank lady not only handled my new account setups perfectly and professionally, but suggested that this raggedy-looking client apply for the position she’d been laid off from, moments before that client walked in.

And WTF is up with corporate?

I don’t know, but I admit, something tells me it might beat real-housewifing…

;))

 

33 thoughts on “8+10 – real housewife ramblings

  1. whaaaat ? That’s horrible! (in the Education Nationale public teaching system we have similar processes where younger teachers get sent all over the country and don’t get a say in the whole business, while senior teachers get to pick their towns – very strange). I sincerely hope she finds a new (better/safer?) job not too far from her new house. As for the “complimenting strangers on their looks/ randomly talking to them” part – you are absolutely right. Especially in Paris, where if you speak to a stranger they will think you are a) mad b) trying to mug them or c) begging for money and just clutch their handbag tightly/ ignore you. Since I moved to North America I have started to do what you did with the bank lady – and bring some American ice-breaking and friendliness into the Francophone Iciness and honestly if you don’t care about people’s opinion of you, you often find that most people whom you randomly speak to in the street or wherever are in fact very GRATEFUL to experience some human warmth, even if it’s in the form of a fleeting comment on physical appearance. So I’d say while French people most likely will never initiate, most of them will (I hope) appreciate the openness 🙂 Either way, imma keep doing it 🙂 Spending 6 years in the U.S. has definitely changed my attitude towards strangers and I would never go back (now I don’t feel awkward walking into a party / room full of strangers anymore: thanks America 🙂 ) .

    Liked by 4 people

    1. About the teachers, that explains a lot as well… and it’s too bad, because usually (not always, but usually) the younger teachers are the most enthusiastic and freshly-trained, so less jaded from disrespectful student behaviour… and yet they keep leaving the schools.

      About the complimenting, ha! I LOOOOOOVEEEEE this feedback Anne! I have these impressions and intuitions, but very rarely is it laid out like this. Thank you lovely friend!

      And yep, imma keep doing it too. (Nothing’s altruistic. Makes me feel so gooooooood. Of course, only because the sentiments are deeply true. 😊)

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Oh my…what a fabulous post! There is so much here I can relate to on so many levels. I hope things work out for Sylvia. Sometimes a door has to close before the next one opens so let’s hope another door opens for her that leads on to wonderful things. I worked for HSBC for 11 years. I like to think I was lovely to all my or at least most of my customers. It was my first job after leaving school, though it was Called Midland Bank when I first started with them. Banks have changed so much since I first started. Though that is another life now. Unfortunately, big corporations mostly lack that human element, and treat people as objects rather than living, breathing beings. They lose so many good people!!!! As you say ‘WTF is up with the corporate.’ Oh and as for being organised….’What’s that?’ Anyway, a really great post! : ) xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Liola, lovely blog-friend, so wonderful to see you here… and thank you, so very much, for these super encouraging words!! I truly appreciate them. “Sylvia” was truly amazing, even quickly jotting down for me some good French job-hunting sites, and honestly I just can’t quite process the fact that they’re letting her go… she told me that she’d actually always wanted to be a journalist, but her parents wouldn’t let her since where she’d grown up, it was too dangerous. On the positive side, I’m sure she will find work again, she is young and lovely and so very personable… all helpful things in the work world, I’d guess… I’m a bit scared of the rejection one’s sure to encounter anywhere, re-entering the job market, nevermind just the bank…. guess I need to get over that if I hope to succeed. ;)) Thanks so much again for visiting here, and for your lovely words… and I can certainly only imagine you being wonderful to all your customers. 😇😘🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have found that without alcohol I am much friendlier to people, strangers etc. I smile and talk to them, give compliments. I do it for myself as much as anyone else. The reactions have been lovely and it makes me feel so happy.
    Lovely post xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do remember that in the UK it was similar to the French style in terms of compliments… nice to hear it’s going so well now without alcohol, Claire, that is wonderful 👍👏🎉🙌 and thank you 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh yes, the Brits are not known for their enthusiasm when meeting strangers. We pride ourselves on being reserved and polite. Uptight and awkward more like 😂 .. we need to relax a bit more!

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  4. We are in this together… 👏 👏 💃 💃 I have been called weird and strange several times because of complementing strangers but I still do it. I think it’s a good thing and you may cheer up someone’s shitty day 😊😆 Double thumbs up for Nadine. Hopefully, she never thought that you only complemented her to get on her good side as a form of bribery 😊😉😉😉 Oh dear, you reminded I of a time I missed a doctor’s appointment which I struggled so hard to get…. Only to remember the next day 😋🙂😥😥😥 Crazy good old college days of study, work, research and having maximum fun 👌😆😆😆😆 Glad you finally got it all done

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay Joseph 😄😄🕺🕺thank you. No, I doubt she would have thought that, she seemed naturally trusting, like me…. :)) Funny you say that about the doc appointment, yesterday T’s plane was delayed and that meant he missed a dentist appointment which like yours, was difficult to get, and had to be booked ages in advance… and I was writing this post instead of checking the SMS in which T told me that his flight was delayed… which meant I didn’t notify the dentist that he would miss the appointment, which means, understandably, and due to the dentist’s strict policies, T likely may never get an appointment with that dentist again!!!! Which feels pretty much my fault…. argh. 😥Anyway, all that to say, I hear you re: missed doctor’s appointments, and love to see you here again, and yay for compliments, they definitely do cheer up the world, as yours always do :)) 🎉🙏

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      1. Ouch, that really sucks, I hope he gets another one soon. For I it was with an eye doctor and I ended up searching for another one with an opening. I was lucky and found one with walk-ins, which wasn’t a great idea but I got a quick fix 😊😉😎😎

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a fifteen year history of joining companies as they are trying to put “some corporate structure” to their operation. And when I come in, it’s my job to ‘run the numbers’ on choices exactly like this one. I’m lucky that most of the companies have had reasonably humanistic CEOs who were thinking about the employees’ welfare even as they made cuts to benefits and added draconian policies like this one. I’d have a hard time laying off an employee on the chance that we might need to reassign them. In the States, with our unemployment insurance system, it wouldn’t make financial sense to treat employees like this, but rather let them work until a relocation is mandatory and then go through the layoff process. And then if they did get layed off, there’s ongoing compensation for the worker. Hey, remarkable, something good about US labor law. Not sure if France has a setup like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful to hear this perspective, thank you – “it wouldn’t make financial sense to treat employees like this, but rather let them work until a relocation is mandatory and then go through the layoff process” – that’s exactly what it seems to me. Good to hear about the compensation for the US worker, in the case of layoff – yes, there is decent compensation here for that at least – in fact, I’ve heard a minimum wage labourer tell me he purposely doesn’t work, because the benefit (though still close to minimum wage) works out better than minimum wage if one factors in the costs of transport to get to work. Craziness. I haven’t verified this myself… but that seems to be a perception or attitude among a couple of the folks I’ve spoken to here. Thanks again for your comment!

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      1. My background managing finances for a child care provider bears this out. Many families on tuition assistance need to be careful not to earn too much or the assistance goes away and they wind up with less money than when they earned less. The 2 party political system drives policies like this. America won’t be solved until it’s taken over by a benevolent, socialist monarchy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow. Strong words! Interesting perspective. I do know that for people with financial difficulties here in France, the situation is all kinds of complicated, and prejudice does exist, no matter how much I didn’t see it when I first arrived. I have been on both sides of the desk.

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  6. Could never do corporate. Don’t have it in me. Housewifing sounds good to me if that’s the alternative. I think a good middle ground is to be had regarding commenting on “looks”. I’m often shocked at my customers who think nothing of giving me their take on how I look on any given day. ‘You look tired’, ‘you look stressed’, ‘have you lost weight?’, ‘have you gained weight?’ – it’s to the point where I don’t want to hear ANYthing about how I appear to them. Not even ‘You look great!’. Oh, you have no idea how I’ve had to hold myself back from ‘Do you know that in Europe and most other cultures it’s considered rude to comment on someone’s appearance?’ I feel in this country it’s not even sincere most times; more like commenting on the weather!🙄 Great post…wish I could meet you at the lake for lunch.💜

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    1. Funny now that you mention that…. particularly in a cashier job I once had, yes, all the time hearing such comments from *certain* customers… either I smiled too much, or not enough; that kind of thing would definitely get my back up lol. Most of the customers were friendly though, and made the day more interesting… but yes! We do have to respect people who are working and remember that they have likely heard the same thing a gazillion times. That’s the beauty of having worked in these kinds of positions, we do understand. Yes, lake at the lunch with you would be awesome Elizabeth. :)) 💜

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      1. omgosh- at this very moment I was sitting here wondering what happened! All sorts of things (not good) ran through my mind and then ‘ding’! your comment appeared.😂I will try to remember what I wrote but, yes, you can remove the above! Thank you. Off to work for me and you have a marvelous day. Meet you at the lake for lunch?? ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lots in your post Nadine but the way that the woman in the bank was treated is shocking but unfortunately not uncommon. It stinks. Love that you give compliments so freely 👏Jim x

    Liked by 2 people

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