Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Misguided Queuing

It occurred to me today that if the frequency of an action is any indication of preference, then one could assume that I really LOVE standing in the wrong lines for everything. I have adopted a policy of just heading towards the longest row of people and hoping that it's the one that I need to be in, when more often than not it’s the worst possible choice that I could have made.

Example #1: I waited in line for at least 30 minutes at the Carrefour in Orleans just to get some cheese (it’s an addiction, ok?) only to find when I tried to pay that they only accept a special Carrefour card. Not only was my credit card no bueno, but they wouldn’t accept cash either! The ruthless employee pointed me to another mile-long line one cashier to the left, at which point I dropped the cheese and walked out. Even the toughest fromage addict has her limits.

Train stations are also guaranteed to raise the blood pressure. When trying to catch a train from Paris I spied a line of only 3 or 4 people waiting at an automatic ticket machine, so I gamely joined in the fun. Since I have danced this dance before, I made sure to check the list of cards accepted by the machine, and Mastercard was definitely on there. I had enough cash on hand as well, in case that failed. I got to the train station with a full hour to spare before my train left, so I anticipated having the time to leisurely get my ticket, then maybe get a little shopping in before my train. Oh Cassie, you silly, silly girl. You see, I am learning how to play the game, but I’ve definitely got some more studying to do.

I was getting a bit nervous, as even though the line was only 4 people long, each person took (no joke) 10 minutes to finish their transaction. Even after I stepped up to the machine I couldn’t tell you why they were so slow. And they had an advantage over me: they were locals! Anyway, by the time I got to the machine I only had 20 minutes until the train left, but I wasn’t worried yet (only disappointed at the loss of shop-time). I went through the screens and shortly came to the payment screen. Here’s where the problems always crop up, this being no exception. Apparently even though the machine said it accepted Mastercard, they really meant Euro-Mastercard. I could do nothing but shake my fist at this blatant show of favoritism. Of course the machine didn’t take cash either, which eliminated my backup plan. So I sighed and resigned myself to performing yet another episode of the chicken with its head cut off.

In the end I managed to get my ticket from the cashier just in time to run and jump onto the train, narrowly avoiding my second favorite pastime (if judging by rate of recurrence): Missing my plane, train, or automobile by seconds and watching it slowly pull away without me. Yep, that one is right up there with misguided queuing, but for some reason it is exponentially more frustrating. Just one more side effect of blonde traveling, which I have yet to discover a way to avoid. That’s right: if you expected to learn anything from this tale, think again. Well, I guess you could conclude that the moral of my story is to never travel with a blonde (unless you’re looking for an adventure, of course ;).