I'm not sure what the French equivalent is - oh yes, 'passez une bonne journée'. It exists: I know this as I have heard it uttered a few times in shops/garages/post offices . . . no, stop - never in the post office, or not our one anyway. I'm not actually too keen on 'have a nice day' for the sake of it, but a friendly 'bye' or 'thank you' can be reassuring and make you want to go back to the shop - or bureau de poste in this instance.
In UK post offices, people are generally smiling, helpful and non-flustered; I'm sure there are exceptions but I don't remember any particularly. In France, or at least in our local branch there seems to have been a special training to make people feel uncomfortable; you are a nuisance; something that could potentially disturb the staff's comfortable chat over rugby or last night's TV.
When there is a necessity to visit the afore-mentioned place, a small cloud of angst appears on the horizon, rather like a trip to the dentist, slightly colouring the day with foreboding.
Surely they don't want to install this in their clients . . . do they?
Last week I had to go there - Mark having the car, thus negating the possibility of driving to another branch, and the package being too heavy to cycle with. So I turned up with my eBay package all lovely and brown-taped, correctly addressed etc, and presented it to the small, round woman with madly over-coiffured hair.
I knew there was going to be a problem.
"Madame, you cannot send this with drawings of a glass on it, or arrows pointing upwards."
She twisted me round brusquely, wrestled me to the floor and beat me about the head with a pile of bubble-wrap envelopes. Well not quite, but I'm sure she did in her mind. She then snatched an unsuspecting biro from its resting place and proceeded to cross out my drawings.
I gawped, then said: "But, supposing someone throws the package into a room upside down, surely it is better to indicate that the contents are fragile, and should be placed the right way up, N'EST-CE PAS?"
"It is not allowed. You should have sent it by courrier."
Then I got quite cross, which is unusual, and people stared.
Anyway it got sent, and arrived unharmed according to my eBay rating.
Talking of ratings, I happened to look up the bureau de poste yesterday to check opening hours and found two quite vitriolic reviews of one star: and I quote:
Dès que l'on met un pied dans cet établissement on sent immédiatement la mauvaise humeur ambiante qui s'y dégage. Les guichetiers sont infects avec les clients.
Or - pretty much what I said, including that the counter staff were disgusting with the clients!The other review was about a page long and full of exclamation marks.
I'm still trying to work out what the problem with drawing arrows on the box could be.