Thursday, March 20, 2008

L'Étrangère Americaine vs. La Fonctionnaire

Before moving to Paris I read all of these books and internet blog posts about how one should never accept no as an answer from a French fonctionnaire. The posts all mentioned that if you insisted long enough the fonctionnaire will eventually cave and you will get your way.

Well ladies and gentlemen such was the case last Tuesday when I went to the Musée D'Orsay. After standing outside for a good 20 minutes in chilly weather waiting to get in our turn had finally arrived. I went to the vestiaire to check my bag and coat and the woman behind the desk asked me "is that a camera bag?" and I responded with a resounding yes. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I quickly realized that it probably would have been best to lie in this case. I was promptly told me that they do not accept camera bags in the vestiaire. Mind you, my camera bag looks exactly like a back pack and my cameras were visibly dangling from my neck. I insisted that even though it was a camera bag that there was nothing of value inside aside from 2 apples, 2 bananas, and a bottle of water. As they continued to check in the articles of the other museum guests I stood there refusing to leave insisting that my sac a dos was exactly the same as the others that they were so willingly accepting. At one point one of the women behind the desk said that if I really wanted to check my camera bag that I would have to sign a waiver not holding the museum responsible for any lost or damaged property. When the older more bitter fonctionnaire caught wind of this she insisted that such actions were strictly forbidden.

I stood my ground and refused to move. The younger, less bitter fonctionnaire either felt bad for me or simply wanted to get on with her day and eventually let me sign a waiver that wold allow me to leave my "backpack" with at the vestiaire. Even though the ordeal took quite a bit of time after the whole thing I felt proud and accomplished. And what makes it even better is that a majority of the dialog took place in French.


IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Haha... Good going!! I think the younger, less bitter one just wanted to scoot you on your way... Funny story!! Hope you had a nice time!!! It sounds so anal, by the way!!!

Jennie said...

Why would they not allow camera bags, but backpacks? What a dumb rule!

L'Étrangère Americaine said...

Jennie it was seriously the most ridiculous experience that I've had thus far in Paris. It's as if they would have preferred that I walk around the museum with my tripod dangling dangerously from my backpack threatening to destroy every priceless work of art.

Candy said...

Good job! I'm proud! Don't think I would keep going. I don't take people like that very well. Better best for me to walk away. Hehe!

Ducky said...

@Jennie: Because they don't want to be responsible for possible theft of cameras or other valuables. It's as simple as that.

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