If you have read this blog for very long, you are probably aware that there is no love lost between my stinky, dinky Franprix and moi. Its proximity is the only thing it has going for it. Well, that and the attractive, new(ish) woman who works a register and defies everything Franprix stands for by smiling broadly at the customers in her line. I am sure she will be fired any day. She is kind to people, even when they do really stupid stuff like disappear for a forgotten item and then return (after we have all been impatiently waiting) only to search his pockets for his checkbook and then begin the long process of writing a check. No one writes checks for groceries here. I only write checks when there is no other option, and then only in the privacy of my kitchen, where I can pull out the sample illustration that tells me what to write in all the spaces and how to spell the numbers. The one time I tried to write a check in the presence of the recipient, he actually took the checkbook out of my hands and did it himself. Merry Christmas Monsieur UPS Man! But how did I get here? Oh yes, le Franprix.
Today I was actually congratulating myself for heading over there before noon, when every construction and office worker in the neighborhood stands in line for a prepackaged sandwich or supper provisions. Turns out it was not enough before noon, however, as the lines were already halfway down the freezer section when I walked in. Bienvenue a Franprix.
The timing of a Franprix venture is tricky, you see, because if you wait too late you will have endless lines, and if you go too early, all the stock is in boxes. In the aisles. Blocking your way as you stare at the gaping holes in the shelves where the products you want should be. I am convinced that the employees sit in the store and smoke cigarettes until the store actually opens to the public, and then they start thinking about restocking the empty shelves.
So today when I tried to replace the sugar that my guests polluted their perfectly good black, French coffee with, there was no sugar. Oh, there was “Sucre Glace”, which frequently tries to trick me into believing is granular sugar (and frequently succeeds, I am embarrassed to admit), but no “Sucre Poudre”, which may SOUND like powdered sugar, but is not. You see my difficulties, here, right? Trying to find the right sugar that sounds like the wrong sugar on a tiny shelf impeded by stacks of boxes which apparently contain “Sucre Poudre” because there sure as heck isn’t any on that shelf.
So today I wrangled my way through the ridiculously blocked aisles, got what items I could find on my list, and then joined the (very) long lines at check out. I made sure I got in Madame Smile’s line, though. She may not be there the next time I go. While standing in the line I was treated to the melodious refrain of some American rapper flinging the F-bomb over the store’s music system. They don’t censor the music lyrics in France like they do at home. Suddenly I found myself kind of missing the sappy Christmas carols that used to irritate me so in the Texas grocery stores.
Yeah, I am definitely predicting another tearful reunion with my H.E.B. when I get home. I bet they will even have sugar. And sugar-coated holiday tunes for my listening pleasure.