On our way to the Orange store, we agreed that we would seek out someone who speaks English in order to make sure we got what we needed without misunderstanding. A few days ago, we purchased a portable internet “hot spot” called “Let’s Go” (Coffret prêt-à-surfer). With that little piece of technology shaped much like a much-used bar of soap and the size of a deck of cards, we can be on line wherever we are in France. Between the purchase and today, I had a long conversation on Skype that sucked the power right out of that hot spot, so we were forced to go in search of more power.
We arrived at the Orange store where the greeter remembered us from the prior visit (not always a good sign). I glanced over his shoulder through the store in search of the person who helped us the last time and whose English was so good. Since he wasn’t there, we were paired with Claire who was finishing up with someone else.
“Finishing up” doesn’t always mean “I’ll be with you in just a sec’.” It means “I’ll be with you as soon as I’m done with this person and am not making any promises about whether it’s a second or a half hour.” We stood around until Claire came back to say that her colleague, Celine, would be able to help us. Neither Claire nor Celine spoke English, though both were very gracious and friendly. So we were forced to make ourselves understood and make sure we understood the information in French.
One of the most important reasons for this trip is to improve my French. I draw the line, however, when it comes to technology. All too often, I’ve heard “It’s easy. Just plug it in/charge it up/stick the thing in the thing.” Alas, it isn’t really all that easy. So after about 20 concentrated minutes of explanation, pointing to the computer screen and the piece of paper with numbers on it, and an exchange of 25 Euros, we left the store with what we understood is additional time. Sure enough, it works. I’ll have to admit, though, that there was a lengthy discussion of certain numbers associated with the SIM card and how long the SIM card would be validated that I could not explain to anyone else on pain of death. I just hope that I won’t need to know that information without standing inside an Orange store next to an English-speaking employee.
For the moment we’re on line. And I’ll have to admit that I walked out with a sense of euphoria at having survived the challenge without resorting to some kind of meaningless gibberish or having a nervous breakdown. What I do in the name of technology. . .