the french post office, since 2005 renamed "the postal bank" is the absolute epitome of futility, incompetence and reflects the agressive indifference of your typical french civil servant.
my grandmother was one of the pioneering 'why don't i keep my money at the post office, since i go there everyday for stamps?' people and opened an account for me, back when i was 7. a simple no fee kinda thing with no checks or debit card or anything, just a place to keep cash and withdaw. she opened it in Lozere, a very remote underpopulated mountainous region, the french equivelent of montana.
every year grandma would put a little spending money in, give me a check or something. and i would go from our little village into the tiny town of Florac, and Arlette the postal lady would let me cut the line, and slide chocolates through the open slice of the window with my francs. lovely right?
many years later, La Poste decided to take over more major operations, like checking, mortgages, credit, IRAs, and that sortof thing, significantly increasing their banking clientele at the expense of essential postal transactions, like shipping shit.
now, in a town like Florac where only 4 people are ever in the post office at any time, ok, no big deal right? but now imagine you're at a post office in paris, there's always a line out the door, you think it's for food stamps.
you go in and take a number and basically sit forever on a bench. they split people up into different lines according to three options:
1) picking up a package
2) professional/business accounts, and
3) everything else, i'm not joking, it's called "toutes operations."
so these idiots haven't figured out how to separate the line into people who want say, a stamp, from those looking to refinance their homes. and so if there are 3 people working, the people for groups 1 and 2 are just hanging out trying to look busy while a flash mob is waiting for #3 lady, who is just about to go on a smoke break.
one time i had the misfortune on trying to send a package on payday. it was like an airport before thanksgiving. when i finally made it to the counter hours later the lady was all, "duh, don't you know not to come on the 2nd friday of the month?"
so per usual, i'm on the bench with all these people huffing and looking at their watches while dude for line #2 is checking out his cuticles, and the all operations lady's shift is over and she is replaced by her successor - which, in paris apparently requires saying hi to EVERYONE and giving them FOUR kisses each before sitting down to work and then, i swear she's checking her email or something because she's looking at her screen, laughing, typing, clicking, obviously forwarding a youtube video to the people at the other counters.
Finally, my number is called, because the 3 people before me left. i present a WWF calendar i had been meaning to send to my brother.
"oooooh, that is big, and nice" as she's flipping through the pages. yes, it's normal size calendar, whatever. she spins around in her chair to the envelope stash, which consists of business letter size envelopes and...that's it.
"ok, so you're going to walk down the street 5, maybe 6 blocks and there's a lovely paper store that has envelopes of all sizes!"
you mean you don't have a single large envelope, wrapping paper, tube, anything?
"no, we stopped carrying anything other than regular envelopes, sorry."
ok, so, postal transaction failed, let's try some banking.
i'd like to take the pleasure of closing my bank account!
"may i ask why?"
because i've spent over 10 hours on that bench! i've had enough!
"but those were lovely, enjoyable hours on that bench!"
not really, please close my account
"ooooh, i'm sorry, that won't be possible, you'll need to talk to the financial advisor, who is on his lunch break right now [it's 3:30 pm], or, go to where you opened your account, oh, in florac!"
yes, that's 10 hours away, i can't do it here?
"oh, but isn't florac nice this time of year? and the line would certainly be shorter"
and that's when i gave up. i emptied my account, and walked away defeated.
the woman called after me "bye, see you next time!"
so not only are they pathetic and incompetent, they fuck with you too.