Day 2, this time all of it in Angers and a lot of it at work. The most exciting moments are outside the plant, of course.
Best. Damn. Croissant. Ever.
So I had to try one of the outdoor pastry places for breakfast this morning. After sleeping for close to 8 hours (and waking up at 4:30am thinking I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep), I walked across the street to one I'd seen the day before. Very nice lady (who knew no English) helped me pick out a croissant and some orange-filled pastry... and a peach drink. I was hoping for coffee, but I guess they just deal with pastries and cold drinks. I ate back in my hotel, and it was good stuff. Tomorrow I may do room service... just because I can.
The hotel called a taxi for me, and it was a quick 10-minute ride in a nice, clean Peugeot. The most impressive thing was that the driver was able to talk on his cell phone AND drive a stick shift. He'd just hold the wheel with his leg and shift with his left hand. I don't think there are many Americans who'd even think to try that. After a little conversation with him, he informed me that it's a 35-Euro ticket if you're caught by the police for driving while on a cell phone without a hands-free device. NOW he tells me...
The whole day at the plant wasn't anything to write home about (but like that's going to stop me). Luckily everyone I interact with speaks English, so it wasn't too hard to interact with people. I spent most of the day meeting the build crew, in a meeting talking about how to test our boards, and in front of the automatic coffee machine. These people barely need a reason for le cafe, and there's always a few people in the coffee room. Except for the last two hours, where I was trying to find some information they already had but didn't know it, the day was good... except for the fact that they didn't build anything. We didn't even get a single part placed. Hopefully they'll have their act for tomorrow, but even though they're planning on finishing the build tomorrow they don't start to plan building anything until close to lunch. This will be an interesting 3 days in the plant.
Tonight I decided to walk around and try to find a place where I was comfortable enough to eat dinner. Most places are very small and homey, and I felt slightly intimidated at trying to go into a restaurant I've never seen before and trying to not only understand the menu, but interact with the staff. It wasn't until I found a bar 30 minutes after setting out for dinner did I finally muster the gusto to walk in and get a table. The next thing I know, I'm listening to the gal behind the bar talking fluent English to some guys sitting at the bar. The music was all in English, and even included songs from Beck, Fatboy Slim and other US artists. Her name was Cat, and she was extremely nice and helpful. It turns out that she really likes the US and wants to travel to the Pacific Northwest within the next two years, preferable Seattle. After finishing my beer & tequila mix (it was on the menu, so I had to try it), I stumbled back to the hotel and called Janine. A euro a minute was never so well spent. :-)
The most interesting piece of the evening occurred while I was walking through the streets of Angers. Three girls were walking past me when one of them looked at me and asked a question in French. I didn't understand the whole thing, but from what I did understand it sounded like she was asking for a cigarette. When I paused and replied "Je ne sais pas" (I don't know), one of her cohorts got a stern look in here eye and shouted "Cigarette!" at me. Finally getting the idea that they were trying to bum a cigarette off me, I said that I didn't smoke (or some amount of French that got the idea across). I'm not sure if my lack of comprehension or poor French response let them know that I'm not from around these parts, but I found it hilarious that they tried to bum a cigarette off me.Posted by Austin at March 03, 2004 03:42 PM