… why it is that some people can make the easiest job turn out to be the most complicated and consume hours of my time when I have much better things to do.
Take my Canadian car insurance as an example.
It needs to be paid, and had the company sent me their account details, I could have walked into any Scotia Bank anywhere in Canada and done it in a machine in 30 seconds and everyone would have been happy.
Instead, they tell me to “do it by e-mail transfer”
I’ve no idea how to do that but never mind. Just down the road from here and round the corner in the rue St Catherine Est is a Scotia Bank. So I duly take myself down there to enquire.
“We can’t go that here for you” they wailed
“Probably not” I replied. “All I asked you to do is to tell me how to do it”.
So the cashier sent for a supervisor, and I explained again.
“That’s not something we can do” she said. “We don’t have access to your information”
“I know” I replied. “I just want you to tell me how I do it”
“That’s something that you have to do yourself”
“Is there something wrong with my French? Or don’t you understand my accent or something? I’m not asking you to do it – I’m asking you to tell me how I do it”.
“We can’t do it for you”.
After another half an hour like that, I walked out. I really don’t understand why I’m having such a problem with such a load of bankers these days. Every single one seems to be causing me problems.
But all is not lost. There’s another branch up the road towards the town so I set off there to see if they are any better.
And the walk up town is not without excitement.
Here we have a typical Western-World scene of a young thin black guy working a pneumatic chisel breaking up the pavement, with another young thin black guy holding a board to stop the concrete chips flying all over the passers-by.
And a big fat much-older white guy standing around watching the immigrants work. Too lazy to even go to fetch a shovel to lean on.
No wonder the Western world is in such a crisis when it’s only the immigrants who want to work. And these are the people whom the Fascist want to kick out
And not only that – I was almost squidged by a passing car as I stepped carelessly into the roadway.
At the second Scotia Bank, much farther away that I thought, I explained my problem.
“We’re only an express bank here. You need to go to one with full facilities. There’s one two blocks away”
And that was two of the largest blocks in the whole of Montreal, I reckoned.
There were two cashiers on duty there. One, an older lady, clearly knew what she was doing. The second was evidently a new-starter who was stopping her colleague every ten seconds to ask questions that even I could answer;
And the queue in front of me was becoming quite impatient.
Eventually, after a very long wait, I was seen. Luckily it was the efficient one. And she told me “you need to see another colleague about this”.
Another colleague was eventually found and she asked me to switch on my mobile banking application.
“I don’t have one” I replied.
“We can download the app” she said.
And if you have any idea about how long the on-line mobile banking app takes to download on my ‘phone.
“Never mind. I’ll show you on my computer”.
So she switched on her machine and took me step by step through the procedure.
“What we need is an example of a payment”.
“So why don’t we use this real example here?”
“Ohh, what a good idea!”.
Couldn’t make it up, could you?
And so we did. She set me up with a mobile banking account and we eventually managed to make the payment. And that was only by luck because she didn’t really know how to do it and was having to search for loads of answers to questions.
I had started out from here at 10:20 to do a 2-minute job. It was now 12:02 and I had an appointment at 12:00 across town.
Later on, in the Koodo mobile phone office.
I’d found a mobile ‘phone repairer who checked my new phone. As you know, it’s a dual-sim phone and so I wanted to know if it works in North America. He put a couple of different North American sim cards in it and sure enough, it worked fine.
So round to the Koodo network suppliers.
Our Hero – “I live in Europe and I come to North America for a couple of months every year. I need a pay-as-you-go card that will do …….(and I explained what I needed)”
Girl in Shop – “okay, we need to fill out a form”
Our Hero fills out a form
GIS – “where’s this address again?”
OH – “In France”
GIS – “but that’s no good. You need a Canadian address”
OH – “I told you that I come from Europe”
GIS – “you need an address in Canada”
OH fills it out with an address in Canada
GIS – “now which plan would you like?”
OH – “one that does what I told you just now”
GIS – “yes, but which one is that?”
OH – “how do I know? It’s your shop not mine!”
GIS – “so tell me again what you need”
OH repeats his initial enquiry
GIS – “I don’t think we have a plan like that. Is it one of these?”
In the Montreal Public Transport Enquiry Office.
My plans to leave Montreal have changed due to weather issues at my destination so we’re leaving on Saturday at 08:10, which means that I have to be at the airport at 05:10.
So I queued to ask if the 747 bus ran throughout the night.
Some agent was walking down the queue asking people if they had simple questions. So I asked him mine.
“I don’t know” he replied. “You need to ask at a window”.
And so I asked at a window, when it was eventually my turn. And they didn’t know either. After a lengthy chat amongst themselves, they came to the conclusion that it might. But they weren’t sure.
I really don’t know why these days that they employ people like this. They clearly have no pride or interest in their work and couldn’t care less about the effect that their “je m’en foutiste” attitude has on their customers.
But a lot of it is due to the lack of training. That’s because the employers pay such pitiful wages that people don’t stay around long enough, so the companies won’t invest the money in training them.
The long-term vision about recruiting good people and training them to do their jobs efficiently so that the customers want to come and spend their money there to make the place profitable in the long-term has been replaced by this short-term “grab it and run” philosophy that will bring about their own downfall in the long term, as we are seeing with so many formerly blue-chip companies that have gone to the wall just recently.
It was a strange night last night. I was wide -awake at 03:00 (jet-lag again) and working on the laptop. But not for long. I drifted off to sleep again, was awakened by all of the alarms and then finally by the fridge and the air-conditioning working in concert to make sure that I was up and about.
Breakfast here is “basic” to say the least, the kind of thing that is advertised as a “continental breakfast” – and you find that you are expected to eat your quilt. The kind of thing that makes you feel down in the mouth.
But at least it’s here and not half a mile away. And afterwards, yet another shower to look my best.
I finished off the work that I had started and then hit the streets for my appointment with destiny – or, rather the Scotia Bank.
At 12:00 I was supposed to be having lunch with Josée so I had to leg it across town and eventually arrived 20 minutes late. She was ever so pleased to see me (I’m not sure why) and we had a good meal and a chat.
At 13:30 she had to go back to work, so I went with her and she showed me her workshops and introduced me to her pupils. And printed out the directions for where I needed to go next.
I need some special equipment for the next part of my journey so it was to the Montreal Equipment Co-operative.
This involved two buses, the 80 and the 179, and a long walk at the end, almost being squidged a second time by another car.
They weren’t particularly helpful as much as I would like, and they didn’t have some of the stuff that I needed, but we worked around it and I’ve ended up hopefully with stuff that might do.
It better had because I’ve put a lot of effort into the next stage of my voyage and I don’t want to be confounded at the final hurdle.
But here’s another example of total “je m’en foutisme”. I want a hat with a mosquito net for part of my project.
“We don’t have any of those in stock”.
“But you have hats, and here’s a mosquito hat-net. Couldn’t I buy them both and fasten the net to the hat?”
“Yes, that would work”
“So how come you didn’t suggest it?”
It’s frightening, the lack of imagination that some people have these days
We had a moment of panic in there too when I couldn’t find my camera bag, and I had all of the staff searching for it. In the end I found it, in my rucksack where I had put it earlier.
And paying for the stuff was fun. Josée told me to use her name as my spouse so that I would get the member discount. And have you any idea how embarrassing it is when you tell someone about your “spouse” and they ask for her address and you don’t know it?
I went and had a cold drink to recover.
Outside, there was another one of these five-minute storms raging;
Apart from the torrential downpour there were some devastating winds that looked incredible.
Apparently they caused some considerable damage all over southern Quebec and when I was walking through the city during the evening I could see considerable evidence of that, with the advertising hoardings all blown over.
A long walk back to the bus, and a long wait too. And much to my surprise, everyone else waiting seemed to be an Indian – one of those Indians, not “those” Indians. Except when the bus turned up, and a tiny little elderly white man barged his way to the front of the queue to push in, clearly exercising his role as a white oppressor of the brown-skinned immigrants.
I leapt out of the bus near the Parc metro station, and my walk round the corner took me past the mobile phone places that I described earlier.
On the metro, I had to change at Jean-Talon, and in the confusion found myself going back the way that I had come.
I just don’t know what is the matter with me these days.
But at least the round trip gave me an opportunity to notice this sign on the metro train.
My friend Doug Paulley would be delighted to see this, having single-handedly waged war against selfish transport companies and passengers who deny wheelchair users the benefits of public transport. And the Montreal transport authorities might feel so smug about advertising this kind of thing.
But the facts are totally different.
Anyone who gets onto a Montreal metro train in a wheelchair deserves a Victoria Cross, never mind a place to himself, because the metro network here rivals the Paris metro as being the most wheelchair-inaccessible metro system in the whole world.
Getting a wheelchair onto a platform in a Montreal metro station is impossible in at least 90% of them.
Finally, at Berri-UQAM I went for my fruitless chat with the public transport people and then back here for a rest for a while.
Later on, I went to that new falafel place to try out their offerings. And witnessed the most amazing spectacle at the hotel across the road.
That coach over there wants to unload his passengers at the hotel but the jeep thing is parked in the bus unloading bay so he can’t pull in.
He’s blocking the road, to the annoyance of the other motorists going up the hill.
While the driver is arguing with the jeep driver and trying t make him move, another car pulls up behind the jeep and blocks him in so that he now can’t move even if he wanted to.
Eventually, the police tell the coach driver to go around the block while they move the cars, but as soon as the coach pulls away, another one pulls up and we start all over again.
And the falafel? I’ve had much better than that.
In the IGA supermarket for some pudding, and my attention is drawn to the allergy-free shelves.
These products should bring relief to almost anyone – free from gluten, milk, eggs, soya, peanuts, sesame, mustard, sulphites, fish and shellfish.
Imagine trying to look for this kind of thing in France. Things in North America are definitely looking up for the allergy-affected consumer.
Back at the hotel I ate my sorbet and had all kinds of things to do, but instead I’m crashing out. I can’t see how far I’ve walked today as it’s 03:00 according to my fitbit and I didn’t notice the mileage before it restarted at 0:00.
But it feels like 100 miles that I’ve walked and I can’t last the pace these days.