Monday, September 22, 2008

It's just another manic Monday

Everyone says that Monday is not a good start of the week. The fact that the most depressing day falls on Mondays are not premeditated but a stroke of bad luck. And yes it happened to me in this particular day. Today (yesterday) I normally pick up the kids from school at 11:30 and so I leave the house 10 minutes before that time. Where I normally park the car is hardly no spaces and are always full but I luckily found a location and started to do my maneuver. Suddenly, a woman inside a car stopped parallel and facing me. She saw me trying to park the car. Apparently, I parked just in front of her doorstep which I know is really a parking for everyone (it’s actually a sidewalk) but no prohibition of parking. She looked visibly discontented seeing me while she mimicked “putain” (whore) ! That was easy reading her lips from afar. She was talking to me from the inside of her car by a sign language trying to pin point that I need to get off from there and leave the parking because she lives there. I moved backward to give her a space but she insisted that I leave. I left without saying a word and started to look for another parking space.

I went to school and saw a middle age woman that I often talk with who lives not far from that b*”tch. I wanted to make sure of something before I confront that woman. I asked her If that certain street is a private parking or if the landlord has a certain agreement with the Mayor’s office that no one could park the car except for the owner. Because as a stranger though naturalized French I am not particular with the law. She told me it’s not private and that everyone has an access to it except for those who have interdiction signs. She even told me that she had witnessed that I was forcefully asked by that woman to leave the parking. She confirmed that we have an equal rights to park the car. It is communal ! Now, that was clear. She even told me that people are just complaining because it’s in front of their house and because they are egoist and they don’t have the right to forbid you from parking there. She added that the woman should have asked me nicely if she wants to park the car in front of her house and if that won’t bother me. If only she asked me politely I would easily give way but it was not the case. An arrogant individual who care less and who does not have respect for others.

After knowing that I was deprived of my right I was fuming mad. I took the kids and before I went home I knocked on that woman’s door to clarify things and to express myself but she never opened. And I can confirmed that she doesn’t have a sign of interdiction like some other proprietors who have their own prohibited parking signs. Since I know where she lives I took her home address, the plate number, the mark and colour of her car in any case I will encounter her I could probably discuss the matter with her without being an uneducated person like she did and will not go down to her level. I just want to express for what I know is right.

I parked my car in front of that white house but parking is not prohibited at all by the Mayor's office in our district. It's indeed a public parking in the sidewalk. I remember blogging about driving in Marseilles and saw this picture where the woman exactly lives.

I was thinking I was probably a victim of racism, I hope not ! What is really irritating is that I park my car everyday because it’s the only street that is near my children’s school. I calmed down (not 100%) after I talked to my husband who is in Paris and will be back on Thursday so I feel really alone with my ranting. Nevertheless thanks to some friends Makis, Kala, Hilda, and my neighbour whom I often talk to, it means a lot. I was able to release the raging anger I’ve had from my Monday bad luck !

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The secret to being filthy rich

Opting for staggered payment without interest when purchasing big items in France is one of the best way to save money. Many would set out for it since there is 0% interest in most of the items which is financially undemanding. Few would pay cash as they can afford it. However there are big items that we purchase like cars, house and lot, vacation house and the likes we would compare the most excellent offer on credit systems.

We bought our apartment through bank credit with very low interest. And it was 3 ½ years ago when we bought our car payable within 4 years and we have plump for consumer credit. We inquired from Aramis in Aix en Provence as my husband was referred by a friend to check with them (car distributor) of their affordable and interesting tariffs. We got the car and were financed by Cofica-c.u. (a filial of Cetelem French Company that specializes in consumer credit with reasonable interest).

Husband was double checking our accounts, budgeting, stock markets etc. when he found out that we were charged for an additional .48 cents. You heard me right .48 cents, a very small amount and we know it perfectly. The increase is nothing but is there something wrong if we ask why? I think it’s our utmost right to know the reason. Husband called Cofica-c.u to know why we have an increase just for the records. Okay, Honey was answered by a lady which is apparently unhappy of his inquiry. And before he was able to contact the right company Aramis gave him a number to contact but unsuccessful. He was able to contact other numbers but he was passed over to another company from another to another. He started getting really pissed off, I feel like its pretty freaking unfair that they gave incorrect numbers so Honey ended up checking the internet and finally got the right contact. In totality he dialed 5 numbers before he could get to talked to the right person including the waiting time. This is how the conversation went :

Husband: Bonjour Madame we bought a car Peugeot Partner with Aramis and you were financing it. I found out that there is an increase of .48 cents according to our monthly payment. I just want to know why just for the records.

Cetelem Lady: (in a sarcastic tone) Oh it’s funny it’s the first time I encounter a client who asks why there is such a SMALL INCREASE (stressing on the word SMALL increase).

Husband: (calm) It’s not about the amount, I just want to know what is the reason. I know it’s a small increase but if you don’t explain to me why then I wouldn’t understand. (He felt that the lady started to get irritated by raising her voice as if she doesn’t need to give an explanation) Okay calm down, in any case I think it’s my right as a client.

The lady explained it’s because of échéances (expiration). And since from the start they have made wrong calculations regarding billing system. I was thinking how could they make such an error and just asking us to pay without any notice. So we have the right to demand an explanation to clarify things. I wouldn’t get into details as this would complicate things.

After hearing the lady's explanation my husband understood well and he was okay with that. It was not a problem at all once it is clearly explained. What we are trying to emphasize here is that they must adhere to the policies and principles because we are. We are good payers who never miss to pay the amount including the interest rate. If you look at it they will charge us for an additional .48 cents monthly without any supporting reason. If you will give them a chance to do this without informing clients then it will be a jackpot treasure! Probably some clients would not pay attention of this little amount but they do accumulate big value beyond the credit. You will feel the increase if the numbers are big….then it is something. These types of policies do accumulate from small amount to big cash value. And because without prior notice this is clearly has a little scruple vis-à-vis to their clients about the matter. How to ask them without getting misunderstood? Or what is this, some kind of rip-off? Or mere misunderstanding? We have made a simple calculations.

50,000 (clients)
X . 48 (cents monthly increase)
24,000 € (monthly gains)

24,000 €
X 5 (years of payment)
120,000 € (total gains)

When you see these numbers I guess we have the right to ask why. We have opted for to pay the car through “prélèvement automatique” (automatic deduction) from our bank account because of its practicality and so as to avoid future hassle and everything is documented. I could now confirm to Makis that France in (some way) has nothing to do with courtesy and this experience is running down in the same category. Now, tell me if they get .48 cents from every clients, I would say that small cents is definitely a simple way to being rich! So be attentive on your bank debit and ask for explanation there's no harm by asking queries anyway.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Une drôle de reflection...

Les conversations avec nos enfants ça nos donne parfois a réfléchir. Surtout quand nous avons les enfants en bas âge et nous pouvons pas lire ce qui se passe dans leurs têtes. Voila une simple conversation de la vie quotidienne.

Scène 1 : Les enfants se battent sur un jouet.

Maman : (fatiguée, avoir mal au ventre et mal à la tête) Les enfants s'il vous plait j'ai besoin un peu de calme.

Mayumi : (malade, elle crie et se dispute avec son frère) Non, c'est à moi ce jouet. Tu es mechant, tu n'est plus mon frère. (La verité c'était le jouet de son frère)

Sébastien : (toujours calme et il essaye de récupérer son jouet) Mayumi c'est a moi ce jouet. Tu me le donne, ce n'est pas a toi!

....Pendant ce temps là Maman prepare le dîner avant Papa arrive.

Papa : (arrive de travail) Bonsoir les enfants. Ca va Maman ?

Maman : Ca va mais Mayumi me fatigue ! Elle n'arrête pas de crier. Je me sens pas bien donc je n'ai pas beaucoup de patience. S'il te plaît ça serra bien si tu pourras parler avec eux.

Papa : (calm mais il parle avec l'authorité) Les enfants s'il vous plaît Maman est fatiguée. Elle a besoin de se reposer. Arrêtez de vous disputer sinon vous allez directment dans votre chambre!

Mayumi : (avec un geste à la main typiquement Français) Mais moi aussi je suis fatiguée !

Vous avez constaté ? Vous voyez même les enfants savent crier quand ils sont fatigués ou même quand ils ne se sentent pas bien. I'l n'ya pas que les parents que pouvent s'exprimer comme j'ai le fait. Nous les parents ont vite fait de convenir que lorsque nos enfants agissent mal sur un sujet c'est tout de suite faux. On fait parfois les choses sans réfléchir!

Scène 2 :

Comme je leur a dis souvent s'ils veulent donner quelque chose à nous ou à quelqu'un qu'ils doivent remettre gentillement et de ne pas jeter les choses. Un jour Sébastien m'avaist demandé d'avoir son jouet. Et moi toujours aussi deborder avec les ménages aimerais gagner du temps donc j'ai pris son jouet et au lieu de le donné je le lancer sur lui.

Sébastien : (un peu surpris) Maman il ne faut pas jeter les choses.

Moi : Ah oui, c'est vrai! Tu m'excuse mon fils car je suis presser mais tu as raison! Je voudrai gagner du temps mais ce que j'ai viens de le faire n'était pas vraiment approprier. Merci de me rappeler !

Parfois les parents, nous avons toujours des leçons à donner aux enfants mais quelquefois ou peut être même souvent on trouve des excuses pour ne pas avoir tort! Ce n'est pas parce que ce sont que des enfants qu'il sont tort...C'est faux au contraire ils peuvent avoir raison.
Je trouve cela normal, se n'est pas parce nous sommes parents que cela nous donnent tout les droits à dire de choses. J'ai beaucoup appris en tant qu'une mère qu'il y a des limites pour tout et je voudrais leur inculquer des notions de justice et le respect. Tout ce qui améliore nos relations avec nos enfants, d'être a leur côté, à les comprendre fait une grande différence.

Here we go for the English translations. Some words could be inappropriate or grammar is incorrect but this will help you understand the post, please bear and thanks !

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Free English courses

This morning France is really making it's way to improve their education system. I heard on the radio that according to the Minister of Education Mr. Xavier Darcos the students will be offered possible rigorous seminars in English-language ability during school vacations in February and summer. Mr. Darcos reiterated that young and old are not proficient in speaking good English is considerably a "handicap" in today's world and for International competition! He tells that while affluent families pay for their children to study English courses abroad, he is offering them for FREE to everyone right here. He proposes as well an English courses for 2 hours at a daily basis accompanying education in high school after 16h. Mr. Darcos comments are extraordinary in a country where politicians and people have often tried to conserve the influence of France. I heard previously that France wanted their Language to be an international form of communication but it will be impossible because French language is so much difficult and expensive even for little courses. This will only be accessible for those who are able pay expensive courses. In the end they drop the battle.

Now my choice to speak with my children in English will serve them best in the future and of great advantage.