Paris.

Day three. And do I have greater perspective? Probably not. Am I still processing? Yes. Probably for a long time. I wrote the commentary on Amazon and the Flu Shot as a distraction from the carnage but it rests at the back of my mind, constantly.

Some observations.

2015-11-16 18.54.08I went out Sunday afternoon to arrange the details of a turkey for Thanksgiving; my friend and I then walked to Notre Dame.   It was closed – but there was a service going on for the families and friends of victims and the survivors.   The plaza in front of Notre Dame was empty by Paris standards, especially on the bright sunny day. Even the sun could not raise the mood. The major gardens were all closed. Apparently for safety reasons – to not make targets of groups of people. It would have been a day when Luxembourg should have been overflowing… I heard later that people were gathering in the place de la Republique and leaving flowers and lighting candles. It is the same place where the Charlie Hebdo march ended back in January. No words…

Sirens continued throughout the day. Every time you hear one, you stop and pray. There was a false alarm in the Bataclan theatre area. TV showed people running for cover. But simply false alarm.

This afternoon I had a conversation at a friend’s in Courbevoie, across the Seine from me in a close suburb. We looked out over all of Paris and talked of the events. As the sun set, it was clear that the Eiffel was lit tonight – it was dark on Saturday night. Last night, Sunday, it was lit as usual, but no twinkling lights on the hour. I was curious for tonight, Monday. Instead of going to a Toastmaster’s meeting, I stayed on bus 82 for a closer look at the Tower. As we wound through the Paris streets, I noticed many free spots in the cafes. It was early – but still… The Shangra-la Hotel (very ritzy) had their gates shut and security outside.

2015-11-16 18.12.01When I arrived, the sky was dark and the Eiffel Tower was alight with the tricolor.   Blue, White and Red. And yet, when I walked through my favorite Eiffel Tower sightseeing spots, they were almost empty. No one was out.

After filling my heart with that sight, I went home. But before catching the bus, I stood on the bridge at the Eiffel and noticed that there was only one lane in each direction as construction work has shut down the center lanes. And I thought, ah, it would be difficult to drive a speeding car shooting innocent people through this area. And then I remembered, they don’t need, they don’t want, a getaway route. All of them seem to have worn suicide belts – all but one used them and the last guy was shot by the police probably before he could trigger his.

I don’t want to think this way. Damn them.

Amazon.fr Jungle…

I love Amazon.com. Not sure I have the same feelings for Amazon.fr   I tried ordering things from them last April. Amazon.f has a great system that’s probably the same in large cities in the US where they deliver to stores for you to pick up if you can’t receive packages at your apartment. But when I ordered and selected a delivery station (relais), it was not possible. Grrr.

I don’t know why I tried again last month, but I did. Hope springs eternal. And amazingly, it worked. Super. Buoyed with that experience, last week I ordered a computer cable. But no. It wouldn’t work. This time I sent an email to Amazon and got a nice answer back that there is a difference between Amazon and the Amazon Marketplace. The Marketplace cannot ship to the relais.

Armed with that knowledge, I ordered the cable to be delivered to a friend’s house. Should have arrived last Friday. Apparently, Amazon.fr does not have guaranteed delivery. It didn’t arrive. Track package – simple in the US – the package is scanned in at every stop and you can watch it get closer and closer to you. Um. No. It’s “en transit.”

My friend is going on vacation so there is a time constraint here. After much searching, I found the “Amazon.fr contact us” again and started an email chat – not, of course, available in English. Oh and I don’t mean to imply they should provide that service – it is France, after all. Just another small obstacle but I persevered. She told me that the item had a problem in delivery. It was put on a bad truck. Seriously, le mauvais camion. OK – maybe that is wrong truck, not a naughty truck.

But they don’t know where it is. They asked me to have patience until tomorrow. And tomorrow if it doesn’t arrive, they will refund my money.

Note to sell: saving 8 euros by using Amazon is not worth the time and energy compared to going directly to FNAC (Best Buy) and getting one immediately.

Flu Shot Travails

The French and in general the European Health Care systems make sense to me. Unfortunately, I can’t participate. I have my US insurance and a high deductible emergency insurance for traveling. So the visits to the doctor are my responsibility.

There’s a very cool Irish doc who has been here years and was referred by an American ex-pat. With your health, you don’t want to have any language confusion so I have seen him twice. The office visit has been 90 euros. Ouch. Expensive. But, shrug, he’s good and speaks English. Worth it, I think.

It’s fall and time for the flu shot. Kaiser told me to get the flu shot here – the vaccine is global WHO approved. Okey dokey. Where to go? Someone said Air France offices but that sounded too weird. So I called the doc – yes, they could. Drop by for the shot and bring 50 euros. I decided to try the pharmacy. No, they cannot give the shot but were nice enough to give me the names of several nurses I could see. I called one. Jackpot: close to me and spoke English. Had the appointment for noon today. I am ushered in – all three nurses were in the room and they were laughing and telling me I had three nurses at their service. I responded in French, how great and how many of them spoke English? And two immediately shook their heads and scurried out of the room! The remaining nurse was very nice. I took off my sweater and presented my left arm. And she said, well where is the shot?   Huh? I am here for the shot. No no no. The nurse does not have any medication. I have to buy the flu shot at the pharmacy.

Trudge down to the pharmacy. I buy the medicine. She says keep it refrigerated – I say I am immediately going to the nurse.

I hand the nurse the package. She opens it. There is the flu shot – medicine and needle! Preassembled. What the? I said to her – I could have had a friend give me the shot! She said yes, or you could have given it to yourself. Well, that would never happen.

No forms to fill out like in the states – nothing about negative effects, allergies, nada. Just a receipt for me to give her my French medical number – no – so instead she marked it paid and gave it to me to see if Kaiser will reimburse me.

Total: 6.60 Pharmacy, 6.60 nurse – 13.20 euros. So that was cheaper than the doc and closer, even though it was multiple trips.

Always something new.