31.3.06

The Party


Today our president invited all employees to a cocktail. We shared a few canapes and some champagne and wished good luck to one of our colleagues who has been recently promoted and will (lucky him!) leave France soon. The president delivered a very nice speach, remembering some of the funniest moments of this person.

At the end of the speech, the lucky guy talked, thanked everyone in the room for their support during his years in Paris and wished us good luck. Then we began to drink. There were 3 very clear clusters: The French bosses, the French workers, and the foreigners... At some point, one guy form the sencond group got into my vital circle and said: "This is unacceptable!".

"You didn't like the champagne, you idiot?" (OK, OK, I am exaggerating again... I just said What?).

And he answered: "How come a French guy, in France, dares to address us in English?"

I didn't know what to do with my eyes... frown? rise my eyebrows? close my eyes and have a nap? What I did know was the answer: "Because we work for an English company? Because you owe your salary to that guy who also owes his wealth to an English company? Because English is the most common language in business?"

"Unacceptable! Unacceptable!" he shouted (although not loud enough to be heard by our president). I reminded him of Chirac, who left a meeting one week before because the speaker chose English, and he said: "I fully agree with Chirac! They should speak in French, Belgium is a French country!"

As he left my foreigners' group and rejoined the French guys I couldn't stop thinking what a shame the CPE doesn't apply to this French idiot.

I am a happy customer of La Poste now


At some point I began to think that the boggie man, in France, dressed in yellow and worked for La Poste. Every visit to the Kafkaesque yellow offices was preceeded by a period of fear and the "Post office hangovers" would last for weeks.

Anyhow, I managed to lead a pretty comfortable life since I decided not to visit the Poste office. I analysed under what circumstances I had to visit such a scary place, and designed alternative processes, exploiting technologies such as E-mail, telephone and buses.

Today was the day I had to go to the post office... I arrived shaking and distressed, I tried to get ready for the fight with the hyperlazy, hyperuseless employee... as I my turn was approaching, I could hear the shouts closer and closer, louder and louder... when finally I made it to the front line I was surprised by something new: This time, I didn't witness a postal office employee attacking a customer, no, this time I saw a customer barking at the employee!

What a radical change! It seems like La Poste is hiring more and more foreigners. The benefits are clear: Better performance, more motivation, enhanced work ethics and better customer service. I am even sure that these new Poste employees don't mind if they get fired for not working well (is the CPE already working and these guys are the best benefitiaries...?).

Poste, congratulations, good job! Now, there's a much harder task ahead: Working on this side of the counter. Maybe in a near future, La Poste will be a pleasant place to visit.

30.3.06

The flying French


I do not live in Chinatown by chance. I do love Asia and I admire their culture and their people. After some time living in a very French neighbourhood, I chose exile in Chinatown.

In such a context, the following conversation happened a couple of weeks ago:

-Hello, lazy French secretary, where is your boss? (well, OK, OK, I didn't say that... I just said Bonjour and where is your boss).
-She is in Beijing, entertaining a customer.
-Mmmm, China, what a beautiful country (some memories of my travels there hijaked my brain).

She made a face and nearly shouted:
-I didn't know that China is more beautiful than France.

I woke up from my day dream and, confused, said:
-Well, I didn't say that China is more beautiful than France, I just said that China is a beautiful country, but... by the way, have you been there?
-NON, I haven't been to China, but I don't need to go abroad to know that France is the most beautiful country of the world.

IF THAT IS NOT BRAINPOWER, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IT IS!!!

Another Paris blogger has written today about some recent scientific research that sheds light on the IQ of Europeans. It confirms what we alredy suspected about the French...

(Today's photo is dedicated to China, always in my heart).

29.3.06

CPE: And the winner is... Roger Toussaint!


So, we had general strike today. And who won? De Vil? The rioters? No, no, no! They all tried to show they had palle, but there's little merit in what they do. De Vil because he got the job as windfall (guys, and he is still on trial period!!!) and the rioters because rioting here in France is for free.

I was in New York on December 5th, where Roger Toussaint led a strike that paralised the mass transit system. And watch out, for stopping the metro in New York, the trade union leaders can be punished with inprisonment, the unionists with dismissal and the rest of strikers with big fines. With all that, there you had that guy, a Caribbean immigrant, standing up against the powerful and stopping the entire city.

What a difference. Here in France, a bunch of guys equipped with stones and little interest in finding a first employment can organise a strike and decline an invite to talk to the PM. It's for free!

If you want strikes, learn from the IGM Metall or from the US transport unions. Those guys are brave.

De Vil ZERO. Rioters ZERO. France ZERO. Everybody loses.

How easy is being a French.

28.3.06

The French say NON too often


Saying "I do not love you" in Italian: Non ti amo.
In German: Ich liebe nicht dich.
In Spanish: No te quiero.
In French? Je ne t'aime pas.

Got the point? The French are so negative that they cannot just say 'NO' once!!! It is in their grammar negating twice, well... twice or more! Because they could also add "rien de tout"! This grammatical lesson only reinforces my theory that the problem of the French is cultural. Early in their childhood they build their basic assumptions on a set of grammatical traps, historical lies and myths that breed generations of rioters in the best case, and lazy bureaucrats and war collaborationists in the worst.

French should drop the NON! NON! NON! lifestyle and embrace every YES they find on their way. There are many opportunities to say YES. They have to learn to be constructive. Tomorrow we are going to have a "general strike" that is about saying NON to the CPE (that weird law for youngsters with no jobs and no experience). I might maybe be supportive if they were making a proposal, but unfortunately they have no proposal. Even if the PM offered them dialogue, they refused that dialogue and will prefer the riots and public disorder (mmm... why didn't we see any public disorder from 1940 to 1945?). Same deal with the European Constitution, the NON won, but that NON didn't have a "yes to" reading, and hence everybody lost.

I keep my fingers crossed hoping that tomorrow we do not have to lament any casualties at this milestone of the road to chaos that the decadent French society has decided to take.

26.3.06

At the Palace



- Hi, I don't have a job.
- Mmmm, let me think, what about making the labour market more flexible?
- Non.
- We will pass a bill called CPE and you will get a job.
- Non, we will burn your car.
- Man, I need that car to tour France so that I can win the next election. I won't change my opinions, Non, but let's talk.
- Non, I don't want to talk to you.

This could have been the dialogue between the PM and the leader of the students rioting against the CPE, but it turns out that the rioters do not want to talk, NON, they just want to continue rioting... No kidding! The PM who, also has said NON to writing off the CPE at least offered some free lunch and private visit to the Palace, and the rioters said NON !!! They are so hooked to rioting, that solving the problems, discussing alternatives or negotiating proposals is a NON-option!

This is the style in this country: Shout, bark, gossip, burn cars... never pulling out. You see decandence? Expect more!

(Read the news here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4843874.stm).


The BBC correspondent in Paris, Caroline Wyatt, has written a short but truthful analysis on what's going on in France these days. She compares these anti-CPE riots to the unrest of the 60s and concludes: "Such odd revolutionaries. No heartfelt cry to change the world, but a plea for everything to stay the same". Talking to students/rioters Marion and Victor, we read: "I haven't studied hard to get nothing at the end of it," says Marion, with indignation. "I've earned the right to a secure job." and Victor goes: "The government must create jobs".

OK, Marion and Victor, I hope your riots are successful (honestly I don't care because I don't own a car in France) and that the French government gives you a job, because I would not hire any of you.

25.3.06

Grandeur? Only some shadows


Yesterday, the French president Chirac, walked out of a European meeting in Brussels "deeply shocked by the language used at this summit" reports the BBC website. Of course, the language was English, the most widely spoken language for business in Europe.

Mr Chirac felt he had the right to tell a speaker (who happened to be French, but who also happened to be at that summit representing the European business community and before an European audience) what language he had to talk. Since the culprit was also French, the "NON" stance of Chirac was countered by another "NON" of the the guy. The result? Chirac walked out of the meeting followed by his secretaries. He would only return later to listen to a French guy speaking in French.

Failure with Paris 2012, the European Constitution referendum, the revolts in the suburbs... The power of France in the world is just a farce, their arrogance only a joke and their influence on world affairs (leave alone Europe where they have lost any credibility after the Referendum disaster) is only smoke of nostalgy. Even the Paris-Dakar rally no longer begins in Paris, in fact it is now just called "the Dakar" (it started in Lisbon this year).

The grandeur is gone, will their arrogance last forever?

24.3.06

From "the Revolution" to "the Riots"


The French have an undisputed reputation of troublemakers: Stealing art works from Egypt, brutally invading Indochina, sponsoring slavery in Africa or selling weapons in the Middle East are just a few expamples of their relentless will to disrupt the good karma in the world. Now that their past imperial power is fading away, the die-off has begun. One year ago they went to the streets to complain against the abstract concept of Europe, a few months ago it was the turn of their discriminated inmigrants' offspring, now it is the hopeless students. Crisis, chaos, decadence... here is where French lazyness leads.

While Renault and PSA "go East" looking for cheap labour and "flexible labour markets" so that they can become more profitable, their employees demand less working hours and more pay, their sons and daughters a job and their immigrants some respect in the factory floor. Nobody wants to give up, everybody blames the rest and the riots are seen as a good way to back up each participant's arguments.

While the anti-CPE riots break, I read the news and it is not the coverage of the riots what I catches my eye, but the results of a nationwide survey that concludes that "One in three French 'are racist'" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4832238.stm). The actual conclusion was no news to me, but the openess of the French about it is really outstanding. So, if 1 in 3 declare they are racists, can you imagine what will be the real percentage?????? 95%? Maybe the French are frank after all?

The problem of France is not the CPE, the problem of France are not the immigrants, the problem of France is that they have spent the past 150 years drinking wine, eating cheese and blaming the others for their own mistakes.

Tough times are awaiting the French.

23.3.06

NON! NON! NON!


In many other countries, if you write a book on "How to say no" you may make it to the shelves of the high street book shops. Here in France, saying no is not a skill short in supply, it is actually an elegant custom. NON. Do you want a napkin in the restaurant? NON! Do you want some help with the baggage? NON! Cinema for tonight? NON! NON! NON!

The French have some reputation for "fighting" in the streets, but what do they fight for? Food for the poor? Books for the populace? Soap for all? No, they only take the streets to protect priviledges or be allowed to abuse existing priviledges. If you see a bunch of people rallying, be assured, they are not trying to help you, at the end of the day, those guys rioting or with the speaker are the same guys who mistreat you at the restaurant, in the office, at the airport. Or did you think Geldoff, Bono or Greenpeace were French?

These days, a bunch of people are making a lot of noise about the CPE (First Employment Contract law, a law that makes it cheap for employers to fire youger employees), and who are rioting? Those people affected. Let the government sign a law opening the doors of the elitist universities to the snobs, and you will have a parade of Ferraris and Rolls Royces and horses jamming Champs Elyses demanding respect for the historical rights of their owners.

Being French means many things, but above them all, the ability to say NON NON NON, with the only exception of protecting the priviledges of self.

21.3.06

French and dummies


It is incredible. Although French is one of the least useful or beautiful languages in the world, it still atracts plenty of mistaken foreigners (mostly Americans) who somehow grew up with some kind of France myth. Not only foreigners, some French must also be the target audience of some of the publishers behind French language methods such as "French for dummies".

In any case, I have been recently forced to take some French lessons... I was expecting to have a fight with the guy over some truly important ideas, but he disappointed me: Unshaved, junky looking, of course not bathed, the guy was undercaffeinated and seemed actually nice. His first question: What do you think of the French?. My answer: I don't think they are nice. And from that point on, he spent the full hour expressing almost everything that I think about the French. The French teacher specifically said that "the French are selfish, elitist, conservative, racists" and a long etcetera. Although he was born in Paris, he invited me to visiting smaller towns insisting that people there do not reach the level of stupidity that I (or we) have to suffer in Paris. Great beginning, I will meet up with him more often. Now I have a good reason to improve my French. Finally a French guy I am in sync with.

I asked for a bag, but I got an idiot


I tried. Following the advice given to me by some of my friends, I decided to stop all insurgency against the French. The objective was enhancing my lifestyle and contributing to circulate some good karma in this city of losers. However, yesterday some Monoprix supermarket employee made me reconsider my decision. I cannot just let people outside France believe that the French are normal people. No, they are not, they vote for people like Le Pen, Sarkozy and Chirac (I will talk about these guys some other day) and behave like the baddies of a James Bond movie.

OK, the Monoprix event. For the past weeks, I have been quite busy travelling around Europe: Fron Scandinavia to Spain, and from England to Austria. Somehow, I had got accustomed to having friendly chats with friendly people, but yesterday that illusion faded away when I reached the only till of the Monoprix on Boulevard de l'Opera handled by a non-Asian guy. After paying I started packing the items that I had bought, including a couple of glass bottles. Since there was only one plastic bag, I asked the French-looking employee for another bag, which I got. After having distributed the weight between the two bags, I asked him for a third bag (so that I could have a back up bag in case any of the two bags broke on my way home), and then the guy said NON. Why?, I asked, and then I learned that each bag could carry up to 5 kilos. I explained to him that I probably had 4 kilos in each bag however I had a long way to walk back home and I was carrying some glass bottles and I would feel better if I had a third bag. But the guy said NON NON NON, that a bag is designed for 5 kilos, that it's impossible that a bag breaks with 4 kilos and all the blah blah blah and the stupid speeches that the French learn since their not so bitter infancy. I was about to start a fight with the guy, but then I looked at the queue of people waiting their turn: the French fowning, the foreigners resigned. Only out of respect for the foreigners I decided to take my two bags, and head to the exit.

On my way out, I asked an Asian employee if I could get a spare bag, he gave me two. As I accumulated anger I could not stop thinking: "Yesterday I was in Milan! People were nice!".