Wednesday, August 8, 2007

as i've undoubtedly mentioned before, there are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can't

Knowing how weak the dollar is, I stuffed my pockets with euros before heading out to the local Monoprix for groceries. I wheeled one of the undersized shopping carts through the aisles, loading it with only those things I couldn't possibly do without: noisette-filled chocolate bars, long pink-and-white radishes, pasta shaped like butterflies, butter cookies, soy milk.

I worried the whole time that I was spending too much and, sure enough, when the girl rang up my purchases, the number on the register was 200 and some odd, just a little more than I had with me. I said something that I hoped meant I was very sorry and, leaving my groceries on the conveyer belt, ran back to the apartment and up and down the five flights of stairs, wondering the whole time how I could possibly have been such an idiot as to not bring enough cash. But it wasn't until I got back to the store, credit card in hand, that I realized just how much of an idiot I had really been. While the cashier slowly retotaled my groceries, I noticed for the first time that the register showed two different numbers. The larger one -- 200 and something -- was the price in francs. Just above it was the price in euros, an amount that was almost seven times smaller. I put my credit card away and gave the girl behind the counter a 50-euro bill. She smiled as she handed me my change. I probably just imagined that everyone in the store was laughing at me.

24 comments:

My Reality said...

If if makes you feel better, I can't do math at all. I would have probably done the same thing.

Just remember, you are not only doing math, but you are doing math in French. See, you have a good excuse! ;)

slouching mom said...

Well, it sounds confusing, in your defense. Why are they still calculating the total in francs?

Bon said...

giggling. kindly.

ah, being the foreigner. good times. gack.

i envy you the chocolate bars.

Monica said...

Hehehe! It's sweet that she smiled at you, but I wonder what she was really thinking...and if she gave you the correct change?

delphi said...

I most certainly do NOT pay enough attention to detail and would be likely to overlook the two different prices. Or at least mix them up.

I found the combo of local currency and Euros quite confusing on my last European adventure...

niobe said...

slouching mom: If I were (even more) paranoid, I might think that they continued to list prices in francs to confuse people like me. But that can't be the real reason, can it?

Amelie said...

No, Niobe, I don't think confusion of foreigners is the main goal ;) Foreigners are some weird side group (or at least that's the way I feel), and too bad we're not familiar with the old currency. In BCN prices for groceries are given in Euros only (I don't know if this is different in villages, but Paris isn't exactly small anyway) -- but large numbers, like prices of flats or houses, in pesetas. Sometimes only in pesetas. And my bank always prints both. Luckily the difference is so large I'm not in a risk of confusing them (factor 1600 or something, I think).
Enjoy some more shopping! And maybe they also take credit cards so you don't have to worry about taking cash?

Caro said...

It's weird that they still have the prices in francs too.

That said I live in one of the countries that refused the Euro and come from one of the others.

Julia said...

Is it ok that I giggled at this? A little :)

Suz said...

I'm so thankful that I went to Paris before the advent of the Euro. Having two, different, numbers to pay attention to, sadly, would have confused me, too.

DD said...

I'm just so proud of you! You weren't going to sacrifice the chocolate or butter cookies and chose to get your credit card instead. You are my kind of woman to have in that type of emergency.

thirtysomething said...

I am behind 'dd' with this one. NEVER leave the chocolate behind if it can at all be helped.
AS for the money thing...their fault, not yours. How confusing!

Lori said...

This is SO something that would happen to me! You are so funny!

missedconceptions said...

They are French, so it is safe to assume that they were laughing and you, but who cares? You have chocolate, you have butter cookies, you have wine -- life is good!!

I was told by my French friend that they still print the price in Francs so that people can see what it "actually costs" and then what it is in Euros; it was/is a way of making people feel more comfortable with their new currency. The value of the Euro, especially for the older generation, felt very artificial and arbitrary, and left people confused as to how much things "actually" cost. (Yes, I am one of those people who like economics.)

Beruriah said...

Mmmmm....butter cookies. If they were all laughing at you, well, then you can consider that your act of kindness for the day.

Mad Mommy said...

I believe prices are still given in francs to point out that, dammit, we are f-ing french, and we may use the euro, but we are not like THEM. Of course, I am feeding off of stereotypes here, and in my personal experience, parisiens have never been anything but amazingly lovely people to me, but perhaps they can afford to be so nice because they feel sorry for me, because I'm not french.

Rosepetal said...

Yeah, the French need to get over the euro now and stop printing it on receipts.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

i would post, but i am not talking to you at the moment. you are in paris. i am in georgia. where, where, WHERE is the justice? we should both be there. and drinking wine.

MB said...

Oops.

I'm still jealous.

Eva said...

Ha ha ha, isn't traveling fun?

I am totally incapable of converting dollars into Swedish crowns and back so I am always asking my relatives, "Is this a good deal?" "Would you buy this at this price?" when I'm there.

painted maypole said...

egads. while in England I could not help but make the conversion from pounds to dollars in my head and inwardly scream each time, knowing how quickly my bank account was dwindling just so we could eat bangers and mash.

Hannah said...

Be thankful you weren't in rural France. Where my father lives they still give prices (in small village shops and the like) in the old French currency, i.e, pre francs. He nearly had a heart attack when the farmer he bought his house off quoted him the price, until he realised that it was the pre-Franc currency price.

furrow said...

Did the laughing sound like "HOHN! HOHN! HOHN! HOHN?" If so, it was probably in your head. Unless French people really laugh like that. I rather hope they do.

meg said...

This so is something that would happen to me too. I doubt they were actually laughing at you, but who cares if they were! I am definitely the person who can't count--thankfully my husband can, so that makes traveling better, for sure.