25 May 2011

New Feature! Recent shopping experiences - the shops and the scores

During the past week I had such diverse shopping experiences, I can no longer keep quiet. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and today's the day I'm starting.

In this feature, I will describe for you my recent shop experiences, and rate the shops on quality of goods and customer service.  Brussels and/or Belgium is not cutting an edge in customer service. (And that's putting it mildly.) However, there are sometimes pleasant surprises...

This week's highlights:

1. Esprit on Avenue Toison d'Or/Esprit in the Galerie Louise arcade:  You'd think these two shops would work in sync but they don't.  I needed a suit. Basic, bland, jacket and trousers or jacket and skirt, so long as they matched and looked good I didn't care.  Esprit do a collection line which can be good and not so expensive. Easy, right? Well... Number one, there was not a lot of selection. Then I managed to find some separates, but... One shop had a jacket in my size but no skirt, while the other had the skirt in my size but not the jacket. Could they be put together somehow? We'll never know, because I mentioned my predicament to the sales person at the Esprit in the Galerie Louise, and her response was: the shop was closing, so could I please go away now?

Grade: C-. Crap minus.

2.  Mer du Nord Avenue Louise.

From there I walked into M du N expecting to be told that they were closing, but no one said a word about it, and there were three people standing around the front desk doing nothing. Downstairs, a gaggle of shop assistants were also doing bugger-all, while I scoped out the wares. I found two very good possibilities (damn the expense) and was about to try on when the Muzak was shut off. The gaggle of assistants informed me the shop was about to close. I asked, can I just try these on? I said, I will be quick. They shrugged; I went to the changing room. Two minutes later when I'm half in and out of a skirt, someone comes to tell me I've got to leave.

"You can come back at 10 tomorrow morning," the young woman says, unsweetly.

She does not ask whether I want to buy anything, or offer to give me a minute, or anything. She is clearly not on commission.

Grade: D. Dire. Shame, because the clothes are nice (albeit pricey).

3. (Unrelated to the suit shopping) Delhaize Shop N Go Vleurgat.

A small but busy branch of the supermarket chain, I was there quite late in the afternoon, looking for prunes. They were not in the dried fruit section. As I was paying for my other purchases, I asked the young man at the check out whether they'd be getting more prunes soon. He said, "But we do have prunes." I said, "Oh, I didn't see them." He said, "They're not with the other dried fruit, they're next to the flour. Do you want me to go get some for you?"

I repeat: the cashier said, Do you want me to get some for you? 

And then he went and got some.

And I bought them.

Grade: A++ ASH. TON. ISH. ING.

11 May 2011

Creators and the created

Got thinking about golems while walking to work today.  You know... just your average Wednesday morning thoughts. I was reminded of the “classic golem story”, the golem of Prague, by a short story submitted to the WW recently by Martin. Martin’s character “Gol” didn’t turn out to be a golem but he did want ultimately to destroy – in this case himself, which is an interesting twist, because usually what happens is that golems get out of control and have to be stopped by their creators. However, they often bring their creators down with them as well – I am thinking, for example, of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A variation on this is the robot/AI gone rebel – e.g. Hal in 2001:A Space Odyssey.

So I'm wondering.... Is there some tendency in human nature that, if twisted, causes us to turn upon that which is the source of ourselves (our parents/our countries/our gods), our origins? And is it truly human nature, or is it culture-based? Is there a little of the golem in all of us? I'm not sure.

And more specifically on the question of religion, apropos of the whole atheist wave that's happening, having created gods for ourselves (the opposite of the golem situation?), is it inevitable that we eventually bring them down? What would we get out of doing that? And even if we do, do we ever truly free ourselves?

04 May 2011

Nice one

This morning as I was crossing a sidestreet, one of those overinflated, big shiny Audis made a left and parked right smack over the pedestrian crossing, right in my path as I was walking. So I came up to the driver's door as she got out. I said, in French, "You've parked right on this crossing!" She said, in English, "I know, I know, sometimes you just have to." And started to scurry away across the street.

I called after her, "Yeah, you have to, like when it suits you!"

Because sometimes it's just so awful to have to park where it doesn't endanger pedestrians.

Because sometimes you just have to go to the juice bar across the street.

The car had Euro plates, similar to this one:

These Euro-plate people aren't the only jerks culprits in this town but this kind of thing sure doesn't endear them, or the institutions they work for, to the rest of us.

photo source

02 May 2011

Not back. Not quite yet

Well, this blog has certainly taken a hit, and recovery is going to be slow in coming.

What happens to a writing project when you have to leave it for a while? Does it hang around? Can it be patient? What about your characters? Will they wait for you?

Bugger bugger bugger bugger bugger.