Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chains update, plus photos

So yesterday was spent (successfully) tracking down chains.  It's a strange story, one of those foreign experiences that I am never going to get straightened out.

The manager at our little condo complex has not been very nice to us since we arrived.  When we pulled in during the blinding snowstorm with one chain, we immediately asked her how we might get another pair, but she was unconcerned, with a distinct air of this-is-not-my-problem.  It's a French manner that I have written about before. There are assholes everywhere who are happy to run a power trip on you, of course, maybe it's just that, but you see a certain kind of interaction here all the time.  The woman in charge was particularly unpleasant to Michele, I thought, talking to her like she was an idiot-- Madame, il ne faut pas drive with only one chain, it's dangerous!  Shrugging when asked if there was a mechanic or a source for chains in town.  It's a way to establish a pecking order, I see the French doing it to each other-- one person says something dismissive or pushy, and the other person gets offended and pissed off, they snap at each other for a few minutes, and then everyone is fine.

But then, yesterday, we were in the supermarket asking if anyone had chains, and a couple walked up to us and said they recognized us from the condo.  They said the same lady at the condo had told them she was making a run into the next town to pick some up.  We should stop by and ask her to get us a pair.  Really?  Just the other night she had absolutely insisted that there was no way she could help us get chains.  We had a number for her, we called, and she said yes she was headed out, and "if she had time" she might stop and get us a pair.  No explanation.  We spent the day discussing whether she would do it.  I was skeptical, but then at 700 she returned, and she had them!  And by now she was perfectly pleasant, chatting about the snow etc.  It's that feeling I have all the time here that some subtlety of the interaction went completely over my head.

Of course we then had to put the chains on.  Here is a picture of the car as we started:

Remember that this was just the last third of the snowstorm.  After much shoveling we proceeded to the chains.  Snow chains are one of the most irritating inventions anywhere, and by definition are always installed with freezing fingers while lying on one's back in mud and slush.  We had them 80% on and they still seemed not quite right when-- finally-- what I had been waiting for all along finally happened.  Two nice men came up and asked if they could help.  Five minutes later it was done.  So far, the widely predicted additional snow hasn't arrived, so we will in all likelihood be taking them back off again tomorrow.

More later.  I had better get some work done today...

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