Diary of a Marked W•man

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Paris, November 2007

Thu. The 1st: I go out just before 8PM to the mall next door but the entrance to the supermarket is already closed. A security guard tells me it is not possible to get in because itís after 8. The vegetable and fruit store is also closed and so is the pharmacy. Usually the vegetable store closes at 8:45 like the supermarket. So I go to G20 but a smell of rotting meat assaults my nostrils when the doors open in front of me and thereís no one in the store so I think theyíre about to close too and since I donít want to feel rushed I decide to go to Monoprix. I havenít shopped there since last summer I think, as I am better able to do my shopping on my own instead of having deliveries to my door.

I am still not familiar with the latest layout which changed last Spring because Iím not going there to shop much anymore so I ask one of the rare shoppers if she could tell me where the cookies are and you know what she says? ďWell Iím not sure because I only buy organic cookies so I never go there, but I think they are over there,Ē she says, pointing in the direction. So much for a friendly, helpful sister. I really think that when people see my crutches it makes them feel superior to me and they take advantage of the situation to dump all their pent up hatred and frustration on me. If this is the kind of people that survive the great upheaval thatís looming because they kept their health by eating organic food, then the world wonít be a much better place than before.

I had intended to buy only as much as I could carry but since I donít hear a voice pressing me to finish my purchases and move to the checkout I relax a bit and decide to stock up on heavy items and have them delivered after all. So in addition to the 2.5kg of potatoes I buy 3kg of sugar, 2kg of spaghetti, 6 liters of milk, 1 liter of olive oil plus other lighter items. There is no line anywhere in sight and the delivery checkout is manned by an Arab-looking young man with a strange long, narrow face. I tell him Iíd like the delivery to take place tomorrow after 2PM. My bill is just a few cents over 50 euros. I ask if he charged me for the delivery and he says no because the bill is over 50. I ask him to show me the delivery slip after I filled in my address and he added his own info about date and time. I take with me the potatoes, a cauliflower and a pack of cookies and go home.

The next day I remember how last July I had to return to the store because the delivery man had not delivered the balls of cotton yarn I had bought, so when he knocks on my door I ask who it is and recognize by his slightly hoarse voice that he is the same man. I tell him I canít open right now and to leave everything on the door step. Looking out the window I donít see his small van parked at the corner of the rue de la Pointe díIvry. I keep looking and, although I didnít see his face from my height, I see a man exit the building and climb into a large dark blue van that is double-parked right in front of the entrance. The color looks like a navy paint that has many years of use and turns to royal blue with the usual sheen tarnished. It was a bit hard to see it through the foliage but when it drove off after the man climbed into the front seat I saw the color quite well. I hear my next-door neighbourís door open and close.

I opened my door a few minutes later and saw that my purchases were in two large, plain brown paper bags with handles, the number 656 written on both with a felt-tip pen. He had never used these before yet they are so much more convenient to carry all the shopping than all the small plastic bags like he used to do before. Phew! I was lucky this time, being only one digit short of the number of the Beast!

* * *

These past three Sundays Iíve gone to the open air market. The vegetables there are much cheaper at some stalls. Last Sunday I stocked up on cotton nightgowns at 6 euro apiece. Last time I bought some was in 2004 and I can testify that they are quite comfortable and reasonably durable. But having worn them day and night since my seconf fake accident of Dec. 31, 2004, they are worn out and I needed new ones just like the old ones. There were only a few left in the 100 percent cotton fiber, all the other ones having 20 percent polyester mixed in so I bought all the pure cotton ones that the men had in my size, I think five of them, all with long sleeves except the mauve one. I also bought a pair of sweat pants because itís the only cut and material Iím comfortable wearing. I hope Iíll be able to wear again the nice tweed pants and other clothes I have in size 10 but I donít think I can lose weight as long as my mobility is reduced by my bad knees. At least my weight is stable now. Iím not sure but I think I am currently a size 14. Never happened before in my life/


Last time I had a roll of film developed and prints plus a CD of the pics made, it cost me almost thirty euros and with the slim budget I have to live on and photographs of my needle craft being part of my contract, I just couldnít afford to make photographs the old fashioned way anymore, all the more since I had about a third of these latest pics not good enough for display.

So I had to get a digital camera. With extreme reluctance I started to read the specs of these cameras on Amazon and after a lot of research decided to buy a cam that has a macro capability and other nice features at a reasonable price. I found one on the DELL website. So I opened an account, placed my order on July 7, got a confirmation of my order with a time frame for delivery and waited. After about a week I checked the status of my order and saw that it was still at stage 2 out of 5 stages, the ďpre-productionĒ. I understand that these five stages apply to computers assembled by the company on customerís specs, but certainly not to peripherals which are off-the-shelf. However the latest delivery time passed and my order was still in preproduction. I checked another day and saw that the only change in status was the delivery date, which had been delayed by 2 weeks so I wrote the customer service and there was a dialogue-of-the-dumb situation, at which the French excell I must say. I was understandably upset that my order was blocked at the second step, and the failure of the company to take my payment was proof that they refused to sell me the item, which is against the law, I told the rep.

Twenty days after I placed my order my account was debited by the amount of the camera (315 euro including shipping I think) Then I was switched to another rep who had a name impossible to pronounce and he or she told me that the item was discontinued but when I checked the Dell website, the camera I had ordered was still being offered for sale. I checked other merchants on the web. It had disappeared from Amazon and even the Nikon boutique didnít sell it either so I accepted the fact that in this fast-moving world of consumer electronics new products were constantly dislodging the old ones. However, from a merchant point of view, I was a dream customer who would have bought the item thatís just going to be made obsolete by a new and improved model. The rep proposed that I buy another camera but with all the research I had done my head was spinning with all the specs I had to read and understand and I was in no disposition to start all over again so I asked for a refund and got it within a week.

At the same time some bizarre goings on were happening at the G20 supermarket, the personnel closing before schedule on a Sunday and forcing me to go to the Asian store across the street and displaying a sign that says ďOpen on Sunday morningĒ but nevertheless remaining open, as I discovered a few weeks later, well into the afternoon. And why did the black guy who stocks the shelves look so upset when he saw me at the store the following Saturday? (This was last July,)

Then I dropped the matter of a digital camera for a while to give myself time to recover but the issue was nagging me again when the RMI social worker visited me, because it is part of my contract to build a merchant-website to sell my wares so I HAD to have a digital camera and so I started anew on my search.

This time I saw that the Nikon Coolpix of the P series had a newcomer that had an optical viewfinder, which the model I had tried to buy didnít have, and I find it so convenient since Iím used to compose pictures with it instead of a LCD screen held in front of me. I read all the press releases and the specs from specialized websites and the little bugger seemed like the perfect machine so I wanted it.

Amazon said it would take 9 to 13 days for the order to be completed, not including the shipping time but I didnít find this particular camera anywhere else so I ordered it there. Order was accepted, confirmation was sent and I waited the 9 days. Then I saw that the order was still not shipped at the end of the week following the waiting period so I wrote to ask why. Customer service replied around 5PM that they had checked and my orde was being processed and would be sent the following Monday without fail. Later the same day, around 10:30PM another message from Amazon told me that, regrettably, the item I had ordered would not be available until some time in March 2008 but I should feel free to cancel my order. Thank you very much, and how am I going to take pictures without a camera?

I returned to the page on Amazon where I had found the camera and wouldnít you know it, it was there for sale, with the same 9 days time frame before shipping. And right next to it, o wonder of wonders! was the very same machine except the shell, instead of being Ďtitaniumí colored, was black, and in stock with no waiting time, from Avides in Germany, but for 40 euros extra including shipping. To hell with 40 euros, it was still within the ballpark and still almost sixty euros cheaper than the one I tried to buy from Dell last summer,. I placed my order and it took only six days until I picked it up at the post office. It was sent by Chronopost and curiously, it was there, I didnít have to go to the Porte díItalie branch to pick it up.

Did the woman lie to me when on October 8 she said the package of books from Japan was available over there when it was right here at the Olympiades post office? In which case she is responsible for the non-delivery, the return to Japan and the USD 26 that it cost to send the package again. What kind of a loony bin is this post office anyway?

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