Monday, December 12, 2005

Reims Part III

Sunday (most of Sunday) was spent at the hostel. We woke early, but were so exhausted, stayed in bed until the maid knocked hoping to clear the room. I had reserved a single for that night*, so we just moved our stuff over to the single and continued to ready ourselves at a leisurely pace. When we finally did emerge from the hostel, it was around 1 p.m. (just a few hours before the girls had to catch their train back to Caen). As it was Sunday—and in the off season, town was deserted. We profited from having the streets to ourselves by taking pictures of Reims’ beautiful and eclectic architectural styles. We saw several war memorials (varying from small signposts to a garden stretching several acres), an old roman aquaduct/bridge/ possible gateway thing—that is much bigger than it looks, and then on to the Cathédrale de Reims, or la Cathédrale des Anges.
It is, thus far, the most impressive in France. It is not as big as most, but light and airy inside, cheerful almost. And the Chagall windows au fond are stunning. Vibrant blues, hot reds and oranges, and haunting images: I loved these windows.
After dropping the girls off at the station, and saying our goodbyes, I headed back into town. Reims has great shopping, and I spent hours ‘licking the glass’ as everything was closed. I also took in a movie, Woody Allen’s “Match Point.” Liked it, would’ve loved it if it didn’t have Scarlett Johansson in it.
The next day, I was checked-out, and waiting at the entrance of the bank offices at 9 a.m. I entered as the receptionist unlocked the doors. I explained to her my situation (now with no money in my pockets) over and over again. She kept telling me to come back Wednesday afternoon when the machines are emptied. I kept repeating that that was not an option and why, my voice getting louder and more forceful each time. I think she finally realized—only after my voiced cracked and I began to tear up from frustration, that I was not being unpleasant and demanding for the hell of it, and called somebody down. I assumed it was simply someone who could speak English, but she didn’t call just anybody, she rang up the Vice President of Customer Relations. He didn’t speak English and after hearing my story in French, repeating it back to me to confirm he undstood, offered me a cup of coffee and couch to sit on. He then called down someone who did speak English, but didn’t just hand me off to her. The VP of Customer Relations stuck around and insisted on taking care of the situation himself. They asked for my phone number and told me they would contact me in a few hours. I told them that if I did not hear from them, I was going to return and hold a protest in their lobby with the other customers who--having lost their cards, too, during the weekend--had begun to loiter in the lobby, waiting to see how my situation was handled. They laughed lightheartedly, and I glared at them. I was not joking.
I wandered around town, taking pictures, more window shopping, and I spent the last of my cash at an internet café.
They called me just before noon to let me know they had my card and I could retrieve it at any time. I was stunned. The people at Caisse d’Epargne went out of their way to take care of me. They were incredibly apologetic, and made a point of giving me customer service information, phone numbers (their private lines), and even offered me a couple months free checking (free checking does not exist in France, as a matter of fact, nothing is free in this country) should I want to open an account there. I have not received this kind of treatment from a bank in the States, so I was left a little speechless as it came from one in France.
With money and a credit card, I bought a first class train ticket back to Caen by way of Pairs and was at home snuggling in my bed by 11:30 that night.

*see Reims Part I


Blogger European said...

Awww... I'm glad all that worked out for you in the end.

2:42 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

Wow, real customer service. I am impressed.

5:03 PM  

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