Monday, November 13, 2006

Pain De Tradition

One of the nice things about being back in France is the bread. We were out on an errand on Saturday morning and stopped at a bakery in the nearby town of Selles for this:

Un pain de tradition is what the bakery called this loaf. It was delicious!

Saturday was a holiday in France (Armistice Day) and our local pharmacy was closed. Jet lag prevented me from thinking clearly about the implications of a holiday on Saturday and I completely spaced on the fact that my prescriptions needed to be refilled that day.

Fortunately, there is customarily one pharmacy open somewhere nearby on Sundays and holidays for emergencies, and the local pharmacies take turns doing this duty - I think they do this all over France, too. By open, I mean that you can call the phone number pasted up on the pharmacy door and someone comes to help you; another fact I forgot in the fog of jet lag.

We found out (by looking in our quarterly village newsletter) that our local pharmacie de garde this Saturday was in Selles-sur-Cher, about 10 miles from us. So we jumped in the car and headed over, telling ourselves we'd make a stop at the grocery and bakery to make a trip of it.

On arrival at the pharmacy, I saw the note on the door and remembered that one is supposed to call in advance of arrival. I have no cell phone, so I thought I was finished, but I noticed the pharmacienne inside on the phone. I knocked on the door and smiled in that meek "please help me" way.

She let me in, and while she finished on the phone - "Non, madame, les pharmacies de garde ne sont pas là pour les ordonnances pour chiens" (No ma'am, we are not open on holidays to fill your dog's prescriptions) - a line began to form behind me. The pharmacienne was obviously not happy to have all of this business on a holiday. And, to top off her mood, she was sniffling and sneezing into her handkerchief, obviously suffering from a cold. A good mood it wasn't.

She looked directly at me and said, "We are also not open on holidays for prescription renewals. We are here for emergencies." Then she went in the back to get my pills. On her return, I explained that I had just returned from the USA, and with jet lag and not being French, I had completely forgotten that November 11 was a holiday and ran out of pills.

Her quick reply was that even the French forget the holiday these days, especially the young kids (why, these kids today!), and that I and everyone in line should make an effort to think about our prescriptions ahead of time. She did smile through much of this discourse, but she was clearly annoyed in that familiar non-threatening way that French people get annoyed.

I got my pills, thanked the pharmacienne profusely, and got the hell out of there. Next time, should I forget to renew, I'll take my chances and miss the meds for a few days (not really a problem since we're only talking about cholesterol reducers)!


  1. Don't skip your meds next time, just plan ahead... I enjoyed this post because I've had a few encounters when I received a "talking to". I rather enjoyed them since it made me feel like I mattered, plus there is a lot of grumbling which sounds good in French.

    Come to think of it, scolding is rare in customer relations here in the US. I think it used to happen, but now we're so PC with each other that we avoid confrontations. This makes for easy returns at Walmart.

  2. So true! By the way, I think the best bread we had in the USA was yours and our friend Tom's in Illinois! Both home-made and yummy. Ah, we'll have to console ourselves with the French stuff... :)

  3. My French brother-in-law was a pharmacist. He remodeled his pharmacy with a comfortable bed in a little room on the back for the nights when he was "en garde.". One of his favorite things about having sold the pharmacy when he retired was getting to sleep all night at home.


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