I feel like I’ve been stabbed in back.
I’m always gushing about the Velibs. How much I love them. That they’re so convenient, fun and brilliant. But fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice… (insert blubbering Bush here).
True to my vow, I tried to sign up for an annual subscription online. I tried three times, in fact. And each time, I got that annoying “our site is temporarily unavailable” message—which was even more annoying because it came at the end of the sign-up process.
So I had to pony up for the seven-day subscription at a Velib kiosk again. No problem. At least I got a receipt and a bike this time (on the second try, I might add). There was even an attendant there, tinkering with the bikes, so I took the opportunity to let him have it: “Quel est la probleme? Chaque fois, j’essaie, il n’y a du papier!” I guess I made my point, even in my broken French, because he insisted that all I have to do is blow on the sleeve where the card comes out and it will dislodge. That the machines never run out of paper—impossible! He said a bunch of other stuff too but I couldn’t understand so I just shrugged and walked away.
I found a bike, hopped on, and felt the smile spread across my face as it always does when I first get on a Velib. So fun! Brilliant! Convenient!
I biked to work, through the Place Vendome and Place de la Concorde—two of my favorite moments each day. I navigated the traffic on Avenue Gabriel and the Champs-Elysée. And then I pulled up to my normal drop-off kiosk, conveniently located right outside Laduree, and it was full. Merde.
So I carried on around the block. The next kiosk was full too. Ugh. My love started fading. I crossed back over the Champs-Elysée to the kiosk right outside our office that always has room because it’s on a hill. Full. And so was the next one. And the next one after that. And the next one after that. The love was fading fast.
I started noticing all the other Velib riders cruising the streets. We were like angry bees, swarming empty honey pots, maniacally circling, thinking things would change and when it did, it would be us who got to swoop in for the goods.
Finally, well past 10 o’clock, after a good 30 minutes of searching, I found a spot. By then, I felt like the Velibs had really turned on me. All my love, praise and admiration, and all I got were achy knees and helmet head.