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What’s Wrong With 24h/7?

May 5, 2007

732 years ago this December, my cousins and I took a 4 day trip to Paris. We were young, we were poor, we were adventurous – we stayed in a hostel. I seem to recall that the hostel booted us out at the crack of dawn (perhaps 08:00?) and wouldn’t let us back in until 19:00 or 20:00. With a whole city to see and nowhere to laze away the day, we walked.

We walked from morning until night for four days. I was not a little surprised to find out I’d gained 7 pounds in 4 days despite the forced marching. It certainly wasn’t that we were eating rich food in restaurants. After I paid $12 for a plate of fries and a microscopic orange soda, I shopped in groceries. How does a person who’s walking for 12 hours per day gain weight?

Hindsight’s answer: I ate constantly. I ate insane amounts of food because I was panicking. I was panicking because I feared that we would run out of food and not be able to get any more because the shops were closed at such unpredictable times. In hindsight, I laugh at my walking, eating, panicking self. The shop hours are predictable. They are open exactly when they should be, when they say they will be. I just couldn’t recognize the pattern; a condition which has continued up to today. I have gotten better at coping with it, though.

In Greece, pretty much all shops are closed on Sunday; even a pattern recognition deficient dope like me gets that. Weekdays, pretty much everything is open from morning until 2.

Here’s where it gets hazy. On some days, shops will stay open after two (maybe until 3?) because they will be closed for the rest of the day. On other days, Greek shops close at 2 and reopen around 6. They then close for the night at 9. As I cannot hope to remember which days are which, I solved this problem by shopping before two. Even after two years of living in Crete, I can’t tell you anything for certain except that shops will be open until two, except on Sunday.

Now that we’re living in France, I wonder what I found so difficult the first time around. At least in this small town we’re living in, shops close mostly from 12-2 and at 7:30 for the day. Okay, it’s a little more complex than that. Some days they close a little later than 12 or open earlier than 2, but as long as I don’t try to shop from 12-2, there is no problem.

The years haven’t improved my complete inability to comprehend variable store hours, but I’m glad I’ve figured out how to cope. If I was going on like the first time around, the math is scary. 7 pounds in 4 days x 10 = 70 pounds. Another month and I wouldn’t be able to walk.

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