dimanche, février 02, 2014

Ah Parisians!

Please forgive the radio silence. 

This is an old story and a photo of the holidays that are already a month behind us, but it's too good not to share.


Parisians have a bad reputation worldwide, but most especially with other Parisians.  So-called neighbors are often the worst offenders. Everyone has a horror story about a neighbor in the same building (including us!) but it can often extend to people in the neighbor - hood.

In order for this story to make sense, let me give you a brief explanation of how resident street parking works in Paris.  Residents may park their car in the street in a predefined section of the neighborhood where they live. It costs around 3€ a week, which is peanuts, and the fine for forgetting to feed the meter is around 15€. Of course if your car gets towed, it's a whopping 175€, which of course has happened to us on more than one occasion. (Of course.)  You are allowed to keep your car parked in the same spot for a month, but after that, you have to move spots, even if that means the one just in front or behind you. Not sure why that is or how they check up on that sort of thing, but whatever. So anyway, all of that to say, a parking space in your neighborhood does not "belong" to anyone in particular, but to anyone who parks there and pays the appropriate meter fee.

One night in December, I didn't feel like cooking a meal just for myself since Handsome was out of town on tour, so I headed to the local Japanese restaurant near our place, on the corner of the street where we had our car parked for the last two weeks. I went to check when we needed to feed the meter before going inside the restaurant to feed myself.  (Ha! See what I did there?)

On the windshield of our black Renault Clio was a piece of paper, and at first my heart skipped a beat because I thought it might be a fine for some obscure violation, but as I got closer I noticed there was handwriting on it.

I picked it up to read :

"Hello. I am the owner of the "espace" behind you. I would appreciate it if you would stop hedging me in, considering the amount of space left in front of you. It's been a week since I have had to squeeze into the space that you have left me and it is very annoying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Now my first reaction was to feel properly reprimanded and like I had actually done something wrong, which quickly gave way to anger and who the hell does this person think they are by saying they are the owner of the space behind our car.  I threw the note away and headed inside the restaurant.

Once I had gathered my wits, I knew exactly how I wanted to respond.  I see your passive-aggressive note, and I raise you ... a love letter!  Of sorts.

Yes, basically I decided that the person who wrote that note must be seriously stressed out about many things and could use a good old dash of humor.

After a few drafts and changing of paragraphs, I came up with this.  (I am so, so proud of it.)

"Dear Sir, Madam,

What a lovely surprise to get your little missive!

It's true that nowadays people rarely take the time to really make contact with each other.  That makes me even more touched by your gesture.

I have a confession to make:  the choice was a difficult one.  Either I respected your ever so elegantly worded request - peppered with so many fetching exclamation points - by moving my car forward, (at the risk, I hasten to add, of "hedging in" the person in front of me and "annoying" him, as you put it), or I stayed exactly where I parked more than a week ago, in relation to the space both in front and behind of me at the time.  But there was an ever greater risk there, I concede, of giving you the impression that I had already gotten attached to receiving your little love notes that have warmed up this chilly evening.

Considering the person in front of me did not, as you have, take the time to write me, I decided to move my car forward a few inches.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (you're right! It's such fun to go crazy with those...)

Have you ever thought of taking up meditation?

Best regards,

A Friendly Neighbor"

I had been tempted to make a reference to the person saying they were the owner of the "space" behind us, but decided at the last minute to let it go.  Days later, while wistfully remembering my little repartee, it occured to me.  The name of the kind of van behind us was a Renault Espace!!  Space!!  Since the person didn't capitalize the word in his note, I thought he meant he was the owner of the parking space, not his Renault Space.  That still makes me laugh.

And luckily, he didn't slash our tires in rebuttal, but I made sure to take down the license plate number just in case.  And everytime I pass by that van, I have to smile.

Thanks, neighbor!!