Thursday morning I woke up early before class because I was on a mission. As some of you may know, in France if you do not earn enough money each month (aka me) you can apply for government assistance to help pay your rent. There is a lovely group called the CAF (don’t worry about the acronym. It’s in French but it basically means the people who give you the money every month because you are poor). Anyways, these people at the CAF department request all kinds of information from you in order to process your file and give you this money i.e. pay stubs from work, rental agreement, your birth certificate, your dog’s birth certificate, a blood sample. Okay so maybe not those last few things, but you get the idea.
I started my file at the CAF in January but we were told when we arrived in France not to necessarily expect the money to ever come through. At first, I found this really annoying. Why offer this option if you never intend to actually give out the money? Well, I quickly learned how the French system works and let’s say there are a lot of people wanting the CAF and we all know how efficient things are here. So long story short, I had basically given up hope. UNTIL Thursday.
I decided to try and give the CAF one last go before I left in April. I would go down there and just try to explain my situation and try to get some sort of response from the people even if said response was more along the lines of “what is wrong with you silly American girl? go home to ze United States and geet ze welfare zere!” Because, as in most government run offices, the people are not super super friendly. I pumped myself up for this experience. I had a speech prepared. I even had my roommate Oria help me translate certain words because I wanted to sound firm but nice enough. So off I went.
I arrived in the office and it was empty. Literally no one was there. And let me tell you how rare this is. Usually I am waiting for a solid 30 minutes. I took that as a good sign. I got called up to the desk of this sweet old man and immediately jumped into the speech I had prepared about how I started my file, hadn’t really heard anything, that I am leaving in April, that I’m poor yada yada yada. He just stares at me, points to his computer screen (where he has entered my information) and says “but Mademoiselle, we have paid you already.”
SAY WHAAAAAAAAT??! I looked at the screen and low and behold there it was! I was literally speechless. Of course, he just looked at me like (here it comes again) silly, clueless American girl. So I thanked him profusely and literally floated out of the office like I had just won the lottery (which, let’s face it, I kind of had).
So I just wanted to say touché, French government, touché. Watch out world, this die hard capitalist may be coming home a socialist. Okay well maybe not but I can enjoy it while it lasts.