Road Trips with Joffre: Part 2
Part 2: Beaune to Marseille
Joffre had a severe defect (one of many) and that was that he was incapable of directing me to an exact address. His navigation skills were limited to towns only, which was, as you can imagine, very inconvenient. Thus, Joffre could get me to the town (if we were lucky), and then Siri had to take over from there.
The drive to Marseille was almost 5 hours so we set out early, in hopes to stop in a few towns on our way. Lyon, Cote du Rhone, Crozes Hermitage, Bonnieux & Aix-en-Provence were on the list. Of which, Joffre found only Crozes Hermitage, and Gordes by accident in attempts for Bonnieux. It's safe to say that we had more than one argument on our way.
The tolls in France were absolutely criminal. Every major road had a price and then another price to get off on each exit. So when Joffre took me off the wrong exit, multiple times, and then we had to get back on after driving around aimlessly in "unmapped zones," I was livid. Unlike the U.S., French tolls took credit cards, which clearly is the way to go because who has cash all the time? Unfortunately for me, however, there were no EZ pass zones or something of that nature that I could blow through when every other option failed, like I did at home. None of the tolls had actual people in booths either. Just machines. These machines did not take Mastercard or Visa, but they did take American Express ... which I found supremely odd. Anyway, thankfully I had gotten an AMEX before I left. It worked fine for the first few tolls until we hit a major road block.
Toll number 3 spit my AMEX back at me and declined it several times. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I saw that several cars were waiting behind me. Frantically, I searched through my purse and other bags for any and all coins (tolls did not except bills). I had 1.7 euros. The toll was four. Cars were beeping now. Jumping from the car, barefoot and windblown, I went to the car behind me to see if he had any spare change. The man behind me was clearly annoyed and I attempted to explain the situation. He shrugged exasperated and searched his car, reluctantly handing me the 2 euros he found. I thanked him and put it in the machine; I was still 30 cents short.
He layed down on his horn, startling me as I was leaning into the car looking for more change. Slamming my head into the ceiling with the sound of the horn, my skirt whipping around my legs with the wind, I went back to him, again trying to explain. He didn't care. Running down the line from car to car like a touristic lunatic with no shoes and no language skills, I desperately tried to find 30 cents. Not one, but six cars, in two different lanes, shrugged at me and simply replied "no." Some didn't say anything and just looked at me like I was completely mad. Not my proudest moment, this one did not give a good rap for the Americans ... my apologies.
I walked back to my car through the symphony of horns all singing for me, and apologized to the man who had given me the two euros. He rolled his eyes like a teenage girl at her mother and without a word, started trying to reverse, laying down again on his horn so the people behind him would retreat. Wincing and with warmth flooding my cheeks, I turned back to my car. As I did, he yelled at me, now in perfect English, "I want my two euros back. Give them to me." In a panic, I pushed every button on the toll booth trying to have them returned. Apologizing to him over the violent wind, I told him I couldn't get them back. "Bitch!" he yelled and then turned around as all of the cars began to reverse. So now he knows perfect English. How convenient for him. Slayer.
I put my flashers on so I wouldn't have to face any other cars pulling up behind me, and helplessly sat there pushing the bright red "assistance" button, but it was just a French recording that I couldn't understand, repeating herself over and over again. Fighting the tears that I knew were coming, I sat there for a few very long moments.
"What do I do now, J?" I asked Joffre.
Of course, he was silent now and of no help. I dumped out my backpack and purse on the passenger seat and sifted for anything at all. A 50 cent coin flickered underneath some pens and brochures. Oh, thank God. Popping it in, the assistance recording finally stopped and the gate went up. Holding my breath for the next toll, Marseille couldn't come soon enough.