Thanks to - well, global warming - Paris is experiencing another heat wave. Back in 2003, the big one, people were taken a bit by surprise. In other words, most people were away on vacation and the old people left in Paris who didn't have family, or whose families couldn't be bothered to interrupt their vacation, died from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Thousands of them.
The people blamed the government for not having a 'heat wave plan.'
"I don't need the government to tell me it's fucking hot outside," griped one of my French friends, "I think I can turn on the fan and open the window all by myself."
But he's weird anyway.
So this year, the government isn't taking any chances. Instead of, oh I don't know, spending money to equip new buses and trains and other such public places with air conditioning, or for that matter, windows that actually open, the government has written a nice little script to post on information signs, the highways, and even to be read aloud to you in the metro. You know, in case reading it yourself would make you hot:
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is hot outside, so please remember to limit your exposure to direct sun, make sure to close your shutters and curtains to block the sun during the hottest hours of the day, and most of all, remember to drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty."
Now that's real sweet and all, but honestly, talking about being hot? On the crowded metro? Hmm. Makes me hotter.
See? Still the government's fault.
Seriously, though, being from Hotlanta, it doesn't bother me too much, cause jeez, at least the 95° temperatures are not accompanied by stifling humidity. But it's true, people here aren't used to it, especially when it is still very hot at night. I do remember that was something I really liked about Europe as a teenager, that it could be hot during the day, but always nice and cool in the early morning and evening.
That has changed. But people will have to adjust. Like buying fans, for example. Just an idea.
Here at work, everyone's talking about the heat. If you ask, "How are you?" a large majority of people will respond, "Hot." Which doesn't sound so weird in English, but dust off your high school French and try this one out:
"Comment ça va?" This is said in earnest, but mostly because, hell, you have to ask even if you don't care what the answer is.
The inevitable reply is, "Chaudement," accompanied by either slumping or sighing or a slight disapproving pout, as if to say, "Really, they ought to do something about it!" All this despite the fact that the building we work in is already nicely air conditioned.
I had an exchange recently with a co-worker who complained she had trouble sleeping at night because of the heat.
"Well, do you have a fan?" I asked.
"No," she replied.
Well that might help. Just sayin'.
That is, until the government decides to finally announce the arrival of autumn.