First, is there a short name for the automated answering systems that all businesses use now?
You know the: If you want help press one; If you just like playing on the phone press two….
Since I don't know the answer I shall refer to such as the AAS for the duration of this post.
In the US when the AAS answers your call the first option often given is:
To hear the options in English press 1.
Para oír las opciones en español presiona 2
. (or something like that)
One has the choice of English or Spanish.
When I make phone calls here in France I don't expect to be given a choice of French or English.
What I would like to hear is:
If you can understand this rapid-fire French press 1
If you need to slow it done to a crawl because you're an idiot press 2
I would press 2.
It's not that I don't understand some of it…. It's keeping it all together that's the problem.
And the French are never brief. They are excessively polite and flowery.
It's not: If you need help press 1.
It's: If there is something that we can possibly help you with, please press 1.
When I called EDF to get our electrical supply upgraded I had to go through an AAS.
I understood the first directive – to key in my 27 digit account number.
I did that.
But then they started asking questions and telling me that if that was what I wanted to press 2.
Or press 3
Or press 4.
By the time I had sort of processed what my 4th option was I heard them saying 'press 9'.
Being totally lost by this time, and hopeful that 'press 9' would get me to a human, I pressed 9.
It disconnected the call.
I started over.
I decided not to try to understand every option, but to concentrate on listening for the words I wanted to hear.
That didn't work, but some of it was more clear.
I figured out that by pressing 0 I could repeat the options.
None of the options sounded like what I wanted so I decided to try the one about 'problems with my bill'.
I figured it was a start.
And it was.
The wrong start.
It seems I had been dialing the number for businesses, not home owners.
I started over with a new number.
This AAS didn't speak any slower than the first one.
The options that I was almost understanding before were now completely different.
I closed my eyes and poked at the keypad….. Any human had to be better than no human.
At least I could ask them to speak slowly.
I prepared my apologies as the phone rang.
As is so often the case here in France, just as my frustration was about to burst forth, consuming everything in it's path, the nicest person answered the phone, was extremely patient, pleasant and helpful, and…..
As of today I can make coffee and do laundry at the same time.
Ain't life grand?
And so are these potatoes.
I've been kind of bored with winter cooking lately, part and parcel with being bored with winter….
So, I've been playing with my food.
What better food to play with than mashed potatoes?
Although they are sadly un-photogenic…..
Mashed Potatoes Baked with Chevre
4 medium potatoes
2 tbs chives
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
4 tbs Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4oz chevre (goat cheese), sliced
1 tsp paprika
Peel potatoes, cut into chunks and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Remove from heat and drain well. Add chives, mustard, yogurt and Parmesan to potatoes and mash well. Spoon into a shallow baking dish and smooth over. Lay the chevre on top, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake, 350F (175C) for 15 minutes.
This is perfect for popping in the oven while you have your first course.