The Movers

photo: la chope, place contrescarpe

Some café loungers waiting for Roman Legions
to pass through the Place de la Contrescarpe.

And Other Moving Stories

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 30. August 1999:- At nine this morning the server-lady Linda Thalman called me up while I was polishing off the last mistakes, typos and errors, and said, "Feel like doing the Dot-Com today?"

Last week, after France Télécom dropped its rates, I uploaded the latest three past issues of Metropole to the Dot-Com, and heard no more about it. 'It's no more reckless than anything else about the Internet,' I thought, so I said, "Let's do it."

Normally, once Metropole arrives at the server, Linda Thalman glances at it to remove my most outstanding blunders. This week, the issue's upload will be doubled: one to the old URL and the other to the new one. So one version may be 'corrected' and the other may be 'raw.'

I guess this should be the least of my worries. Here then, is the new URL for 'Metropole Paris:'

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, if you have any problems with it, tell me all about them. Bookmark the new URL as soon as you can. If you forget, the old URL will continue to work - through the mysterious magic of an item called 'redirect.'

Other Movers

My apartment's street is 172 metres long, and 12 metres wide between building fronts. Parking is allowed on both sides, so it is one-way; from the big avenue down to the cross street where it is necessary to turn right.

When I moved here in mid-July, the movers filled the street almost daily - moving residents in or out. Move out, then a day or a couple of days later, another gang is moving in. The movers block the street, for which they need permission; and they work like beavers to do it as quickly as possible.

The movers don't fool around carrying people's goods and chattels up stairs or using the old elevators. They bring their own elevator, run it up to a handy window and lift up just about everything.

The movers' elevators all seem to have their own power. Whatever it is, it makes a fair racket for as long as it takes to get everything up or down.

The moving in and out stopped at the end of July, but now at the end of August it has started up again. Lastphoto: movers outside window Tuesday I looked out the window to see how many machines were free in the coin laundry across the street and all I could see was the side of a mover's van - which had a mover painted on it.

When the movers are this close, I have to shut the windows because of the noise. For some reason, the police showed up and the movers had to move their van. The next time I saw it again, it was back in the middle of the narrow street and the elevator was grinding away.

The Speedy Movers

Near the beginning of the block, there is a nondescript shop front. I wondered what it was because there always seems to be people standing around in it, appearing to be having conferences.

My new dentist is just opposite, and the street in front is marked for two-wheel parking. I noticed that there were always a half-dozen scooters and motorcycles parked there - but I couldn't figure out why because there is no motorcycle or scooter sales outlet or garage anywhere around.

With the street being so narrow and one-way, everything on wheels using it passes my place. It sounds like an urban dragstrip sometimes.

I must be thick, I think. The 'nondescript shop front' is a local courier outfit and the two-wheelers parked across the street belong to its riders. They get their marching orders and peel off down my street - not bothering to get out of low gear or second on account of the short distance.

By the time they pass my windows, they can be turning 10,000 rpm, with their exhaust pipes sounding like rockets lifting off. The only time they don't do this, is when mover's vans have the street blocked.

The Slow Movers

If it is Sunday, then there are no movers and no couriers. Every other Sunday, the sidewalk cleaners come to do the sidewalks. Their tanker comes down the centre of the street and the high-pressure hose has a suspension so it loops over the parked cars.

The tanker's motor grinds in low gear and its pumps howl and the hard jet of water hitting the sidewalk makes itsphoto: sign: blancherie sound like hissing steam too. The whole rig comes at a slow walking speed, making quite a lot of noise for a fair amount of time on an otherwise quiet Sunday morning. They must have an odd-even schedule, because it is not every Sunday.

A separate crew in a different rig cleans the street. They just do the centre of the street, because both sides are nearly always full of parked cars. I must watch to see which crew does the pavement underneath the cars.

This seems to be done around 22:30 in the evening, when my shutters are closed and just when the evening's TV movie is reaching its climax.

The Café

Everybody knows Paris is full of cafés and there are a lot of them near where I live. This is a big difference from the village where I lived for 12 years. There was one café there and it was closed on Sundays, Monday mornings, official holidays and for three weeks in August.

Since mid-July, some my new set of cafés, if they aren't on the avenue or in the Rue Daguerre, have been closed for summer holidays too - but now most of them are open again.

Sooner or later, I am going to have a favorite café, where I will be a regular client. There's a word for this in German, but none in English or French. My regular café will be my stamm-café and I will be a stammkunden.

It takes years to achieve the status of 'stammkunden.' This is a two-way thing; you have to be comfortable with the café and it with you, because it will become a home away from home, or a second living room.

The place I lived in before the village had two cafés, the village had one; now there are more than a dozen within a few blocks.

There are three basic types of café: the big cafés on the avenue near the numerous métro stations, the two or three slightly yuppie cfés in the Rue Daguerre, and all the neighborhood cafés in the secondary, largely residential streets.

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