Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What doesn't kill you, final installment.

Needless to say this is not what I was expecting.  I protested slightly, to the effect of, “but I didn’t have a choice, I did all I could, I have two kids to feed.”  You know, the usual stuff.  But alas it seemed destined to be.

I reluctantly gave him my credit card and he left to go do his thing.

It should be mentioned at this point that my train car consisted of myself, a handful of adults, and then a million French high schoolers who were just coming back from a trip to Amsterdam.  Most of them passed out as soon as the train started moving, but a lot of them happily perked up when all of this drama started going down.

So anyway, the guy left, I miserably resumed reading my book, and then he eventually came back with a 133€ ticket (fine) and, after I signed everything, told me that he felt sorry (indifferent) that this had happened. 

Being as I couldn’t actually do anything about it at the time, I just sat there pissed off and tried to decide what my next move would be.  I figured I could go to the “Customer Service” office in the train station and talk to someone.  So once we finally arrive in Paris, I walk into the station and look around but there are only ticket windows.  Something tells me that’s not going to be helpful.  Plus there’s a big line.  No thanks.

I go to the glass “SNCF Information” cube in the center of the station.  I explain to the guy (twice) what happened, and after he finally starts listening to what I’m saying, he raises his eyebrows and says, “Yikes, that sounds awful.”

No shit, Sherlock.

He thinks for a bit and then pulls out this complaint form and gives it to me.  I look at the and it has all these fields to fill out, plus a big blank section where I have to write out my life’s story in French to explain to the SNCF why I deserve to get any money from them.  Based on the fact that I don’t currently live in France, plus based on the fact that I have lived in France before and am quite familiar with how much effort goes into actually getting what would be called “service” in the States…I figured I had a better chance of getting mauled by a bear on the streets of Paris than getting any kind of refund from the SNCF.

I asked if there was anything else he could do, to which he replied no.  Then the thought occurred to me to ask if there was an SNCF boutique nearby.  It was already pushing 6 o’clock though, so I wasn’t sure if one was going to be open, but I could put it on the To-Do List for the next day.

As luck would have it, there was a boutique (I keep saying “boutique” because that’s what it is in French…I guess in English we’d just say “store”?) right next to where Paula lives (the friend I stayed with in Paris), so I was able to walk to the store on my way to Paula’s with no problem.

I get there and sit down to talk to the lady behind the desk and explain what happened (twice).  She looks at me, then turns to her colleague and says, “We can just refund him his ticket, right?”  Her colleague replies, “Yeah, just give so-and-so a call.”  So they make a phone call and happily give me €€!

So after filling out just a bit of paperwork, the lady writes down what happened for me, then makes copies of a bunch of stuff, and says she’ll send it all out in the morning!

I left the store with Paris in front of me, my problems behind me, and the rain above (and on) me.  All in all, I’d count it an expensive win.

The next evening and day were filled with many meanderings and mini-adventures through the beautiful, twisty streets of Paris.  I was asked if all this effort was worth visiting Paris for less than 48 hours.  I replied, “yes” without hesitation.  I’ll always go back to Paris whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Happy to have finally arrived.
Getting our Prescriptions filled.
Amorino candies.
Sushi lunch.
Café hour(s).
View from the café.

Many a good metro ride with Paula.
Morning caffeine boost.
End of the journey.  Back in Sevilla.

And that's it for now!  Thanks for sticking through all these posts until the end.  I hope the story was worth it, lol.


  1. Woah, I love the pictures (especially the first one...you look amazing!) and seeing you & Paula together again makes me smile! I miss you guys!

    That sure was a lot of effort you went through, but wow! You made it! So you were refunded the price of the ticket you bought originally, or the fine?

  2. Peter, I just visited your blog to catch the last few posts and enjoyed them tremendously! Hope Spain is still treating you well!