Malaise in Paris


The word for discomfort, or uneasiness in French is ‘malaise’. There are many reasons I love France and one of its most endearing attributes can be the seemingly lack of logic – at least on the surface. Otherwise, what could possibly explain my surprising discovery regarding the current lack of Free WiFi service at the Vandamme branch of the City of Paris library system?

Since last November, Free Wifi service has been suspended at this branch. I assumed it was because of a malfunction. No one at first seemed to know when it would – or if it will be reinstated – which is why, on February 19th – I’m still sitting out in the park wearing my warmest coat. Luckily, the sun still shines brightly – at least, here, no one has figured out how to give free sunshine and then take it away.

Today, one of the staff members at the library was kind enough to explain in greater detail WHY the free Wifi service had been suspended. It is because of complaints of ‘malaise’.

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Apparently, WiFi waves has caused headaches.
“For the users?” I asked.
“No, for staff members.” I was told.
“In any case, it’s something that needs to be resolved by the City of Paris,” said the staff member.

I explained that in the meantime I was able to gain WI FI access at the Jardin Atlantique (which normally closes around 5:30 pm (but sometimes sooner depending on the whim of whoever shuts off service).

Talking about ‘malaise’ that’s exactly what I feel also when I’m typing away in the park as the day draws to a close. The last time I was here, a group of kids passed by and one paused to say, “Madame, you see that guy in front of us – be careful – he’ll try to take your computer!” Of course I assumed the kids were just joking around on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon. However, one feels much more ‘a l’aise’ or ‘at ease’ in the more populated setting of a public library. So, whoever the employees may be who are grappling with their ‘malaise’ I hope they are not alone in their discomfort- each one of us has our various ‘malaise’ to bear.

The beauty of public libraries is the safe environment for learning of all sorts. It’s nice to be able to sit in a warm and quiet environment surrounded by books – many of which recount the history of this amazing city. It’s really a privilege to have such wealth of written word so generously shared – there for you to enjoy and there for your continued education. Perhaps without the Wifi access more people will start reading?