Dear Madame France:
Thank you so much for allowing me to live in your wonderful country. I love tasting everything I can, learning more about your rich history and curious customs, and even though I can’t conjugate the verbs in the plus-que-parfait-de l’indicative (come to think of it, all those verbs are so darn hard!), I’m trying my best, really, and hope to be able to do them all someday so as not to disappoint you.
I also want to thank you for loosening up the rules around here and allowing me to wear shorts and flip-flops, which was especially important during the recent heatwave. To show my gratitude, I promise to keep my feet in top-top shape…I promise!
But that heatwave we just got over was a killer, wasn’t it?
Just putting on clothes was a challenge and I guess that most of my neighbors had the same problem wearing clothes too, which I could see from my window night and day (especially at night). You probably already know this, but in case anyone else is reading this, there is this widespread perception that all French people are slim and in good shape. But from what I could see (especially at night), the people who live in the apartments surrounding my place are getting kinda flabby and certainly not the image of the trim, well-kept Parisian that people think of.
(Especially those people just across the courtyard from me! I think they’ve eaten way too many of your yummy croissants!!)
But seriously, there is something else that I’d like to talk to you about:
How to deal with future heatwaves.
Although I’m told this is a relatively new phenomenon, it seems like since I’ve been here, we’ve had two; the last one killed 15,000 of your citizens. That’s a lot of people, don’t you think? Kinda sad.
I find it odd that a country where the summer temperatures now normally reach over 100 degrees (38 degrees C), very few places have any sort of ventilation or fans. I’ve heard from lots of your people that fans are bad for your health (and expensive, although mine was less than 30€, which I don’t think is expensive…do you?) but I’ve been using fans all my life and I’m fine. Really. And so has the rest of the world outside of this big hexagon that we live in.
I heard that the Tour de France riders from other countries almost passed out when dining and during their off-hours, since they couldn’t get anyone to open windows or turn on a fan, and were becoming severely short-of-breath. Please, Madame France, help your people see the error of their ways, lead them from the Middle Ages. I hate to see your people, as well as those of us who love and care for you, needlessly suffer year after year after year.
(Well, come to think of it, there’s a few people that I don’t mind seeing suffering, mostly that nasty woman at my bank who works at the desk and will never help me. She’s not very nice and your city would be a better place without her. Is there any way you ask her to leave? She doesn’t seem very happy here.)
France is a modern country and I really love it here. Really. You’re extremely technologically advanced and you’ve had so many breakthroughs in various scientific and medical fields that have changed the world. Yet I don’t understand why there are no ceiling fans anywhere. They’re perhaps the simplest and most environmentally-friendly method of cooling down interior spaces I can think of and I’m not a rocket-scientist like those brainy folks in Toulouse. Could you ask some of the restaurants and other public spaces to put them in? They’re really not that expensive.
(And tell the places that have air-conditioning that if they want it to work, they need to close the windows and keep them closed. It makes the machines work far more effectively, and they’ll waste less power so you won’t have to build so many nuclear power plants.)
I know sometimes you just say, c’est la vie and folks blame the government, but people here are exceptionally adept at taking to the streets for getting whatever they want (the government, the big bunch of sillies, always gives in…how cool is that?), and I’m surprised there hasn’t been some sort of an uprising. Maybe if you offered cold beer, people might go. Just a thought.
While at La Poste the other day, I almost passed out waiting in line from a combination of the heat, and from the bo of the woman in front of me who was furiously waving a fan, blowing the smell in my direction. I was tempted to back away from her, but I’ve learning living here that if you leave the slightest bit of space between you and the person in front of you, that seems to be an open invitation for someone else to step right in there. But it was really unpleasant…to say the least!
So here’s an idea that you should really, really think about:
Why not install some ceiling fans between now and the next lethal heatwave? I’ve visited extremely impoverished, totally destitute third-world countries, and most public and private buildings have them. Why not put them in Paris? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe you could also replace the bus windows so that they could be opened in hot weather as well. Seriously, it wouldn’t cost that much, would it? I know you’re a little short on cash lately, so maybe just raise fares (oops…I see you’ve already done that this month.)
PS: While you’re at it, could you also please ask the Parisians to stop walking right into me as if I wasn’t there?
Thanks again! You’re the best!!!