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The Pee Ladies of Paris

I like to maintain traditions as much as the next person—remember Tevye singing “Tradition” in the movie Fiddler on the Roof? A tradition in Paris is about to become extinct—all in the name of “progress.”

Well, one of the traditions—or should I say, experiences—was being in the men’s public bathroom while the female attendant waited for me to finish so she could tidy up the place after I left (and collect her half a franc). Imagine the impression this made on a ten-year-old American boy living in Europe over fifty years ago.

Urinal Cross-Sales

Madame Pipi – A toilet lady. Photo by Yves Lorson (2006). PD-Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.
Madame Pipi – A toilet lady. Photo by Yves Lorson (2006). PD-Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

These Paris toilet ladies or as they are affectionately known, “dames pipi” or pee ladies, are about to be dismissed by the government in favor of a Dutch company called 2theloo (cute name, huh?). You see this company has developed a new automated toilet technology. What it really flushes down to is cross-selling toilet products. Yep, the dames pipi are expected to follow me to the stall, be able to speak multiple languages, and sell me stuff like toilet paper and tooth-brushes. Their traditional cleaning responsibilities seem to have taken a back seat to cross-selling toiletries.

The Loo

Where did the word loo originate? A more common term for the European bathroom is the W.C. (“vay say”). Check this out.

Pick a Flower

La Bella Mano – Venus assisted by her winged attendants. Painting by Rossett (1875). Delaware Art Museum. PD-Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.
La Bella Mano – Venus assisted by her winged attendants. Painting by Rossett (1875). Delaware Art Museum. PD-Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Back in the days when a refined lady was outdoors and had to relieve herself, she would declare to her ladies-in-waiting (a “posse” in todays vernacular) that she had to go “pick a flower.” The ladies would form a circle around their mistress to ensure privacy. Times have changed as my daughter found out in the women’s restroom at the Deauville France train station (it was a giant hole in the ground)—no posse necessary but other similarities.

You’ll enjoy Riana’s blog on Paris public restrooms.

The World Changes

As the world changes so go my fond memories including the red double decker buses in London, dressing up for the airline experience, and now the dismissal of the Paris pee ladies. I even have to endure American style happy hours while in Paris. I can handle a Starbucks every other block but a happy hour at the bistros? What next—two for one drinks?

So when you all complain about having to incorporate cross selling into what was once your non-sales position, just remember that you’re not alone. The pee ladies are expected to do the same.

Read the article in its entirety. Like I say in my books, I don’t make this stuff up.

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What’s New With Sandy and Stew?

As I mentioned in the last blog post, we’ve submitted, for book design, the final edited manuscripts (two volumes) for the walking tour of medieval Paris (Where Did They Burn the Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar?). One of the things Sandy and I have been working on is the ePub conversions of the two books called Where Did They Put the Guillotine? We are pleased to announce that both books are now available on Kindle Fire and iBooks. A big thank you to Doris and her crew at AuthorLink for their efforts. In the next blog post, I’ll discuss our travel app that is about to go live.

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