Because there are also British businesses operating on the Riviera. And if that isn't bad enough, French people use them.
Let me explain.
There's a Virgin store - a large one - at the bottom of Avenue Jean Medecin, the main shopping street in central Nice. It sells lots of different things - audio equipment, CDs, DVDs, Virgins, and (mercifully) British-type stationery - the stuff with just horizontal lines running across the page, rather than those weird tiny squares the French insist on for their notebooks, just in case they feel an emergency graph coming on. (If they don't have any paper to hand they have to make do with their clothing, hence their favourite shirts with those weird tiny squares. The French are nothing if not graphic).
Anyway, said store also has a cafe. The waiting staff here are specially picked to combine the qualities of both countries nationalities; for they have the surliness of the French, plus the ineptitude of the British. Genius!
I arranged to meet some girlfriends in the cafe the other day. Two of us had already been to lunch together in a lovely Nicois restaurant, where the cuisine was of reknowned good quality. Which was just as well, because for the hour after we'd ordered all we could do was reflect on other people's opinion of the food, since they forgot about supplying us with any. Even after we'd reminded them. But the fact that others had enjoyed their meals was something of a comfort, as you can imagine. (They did knock the wine off the bill to be fair, although this, too, could have been forgetfulness. But SO WHAT?!)
Anyway, Miranda and I looked forward to our post-prandial coffee with Santa and Veronica, who were already ensconced at a table. We placed our order with the miserable young man who (eventually) approached our seats. Some 15 minutes later he brought our boissons, spectacularly CRASHING DOWN ONTO THE TABLE my glass of water, so much so that it spilled. He looked at it angrily and wandered off, never to return.
A while later I approached the counter and asked another miserable employee where the bathroom was. He gestured wearily over to an area roughly the size of the Alpes Maritimes, which was obviously the most specific he was going to get, and so I meandered through the tables for a couple of miles. In a kind of foyer thing I then endeavoured to open 8 unmarked doors, before I came upon one with a torn piece of A4 paper stuck to it (the staff didn't have time to go out and buy stationery, FGS!) saying TOILETTES.
I tried to open the door, but there was no handle. Just a big lock. I went up to the counter, where (yet) another miserable young man told me that the convenience was inconveniently occupied (an inconvenient truth - hey, promising title for a film! - being that there was only the one toilet to service 200 customers), and that I had to wait.
Soon the door opened. A man emerged with a large key in his hand, and proceeded to lock said door. I told him I was waiting to go in, and he replied that I should go up to the counter then and tell them I wanted to use the bathroom. Without letting me explain he marched purposefully away, and handed over the key to the staff. I then had to go up to the counter (again), and ask them for the key. A new, miserable young woman asked me if I was a customer. I said yes, and pointed to my three friends the other side of the room. She handed over the large key.
What WAS it with that w*nker? (No, not an 'i', try again). He was merely another customer. What was it to him if I borrowed the facilities for 30 seconds? Would he really deny a woman the chance to use the bathroom if she hadn't been a customer? Is needing to go to the bathroom something only wanton, wilful women do because of a terrible upbringing? Or perhaps a misspent youth?
Was he saying that I had to buy something if I wanted to exercise my right to be human??? That I shouldn't have designed my body to have to get rid of excess fluids several times a day if I expected to go out in public? Or was he just a TW*T??? (No, It's NOT an 'i', I'm getting bored with telling you).
Moral of the Story: Never tell a Nicois man to put his head in the oven unless you actually want him to do so. Rules are rules and they are there to be followed. If you'd like me to show this on a graph, you can piss off. (Unlike me in Virgin).
P.S. That bathroom was one of the filthiest I've ever had the misfortune to visit. Good job they keep it under lock and key, else the cleaner might be able to gain admittance.