Friday, October 10, 2003


In response to my recent post about French attitudes, a reader emailed me a few of his own experiences with these delightful people:

"In the early 90's I worked for a French Investment Bank in New York which was supposed to be the "most International" of all the French banks. This meant that we local hires had first hand dealings with the archetypal French upper crust snob. It was very amusing watching these guys at work. They all wore the same clothes, had the same mannerisms and were usually not very good at their jobs because they all seemed to practice "the cover your ass" outlook towards work.

Because they were French expats they were not on the same compensation as the locals which bothered them no end. It was difficult for them to understand how they could be paid less ( they didn't work very hard) despite the fact that their jobs were " guaranteed for life. Locals could be fired at a moment's notice in New York. Political intrigue was their most important daily workhabit. Honestly, most of them reminded me of Inspector Clouseau as they frequently argued points that made no sense.

I once discussed the reasons for the high French unemployment rate with a high level executive who was visiting. He told me that most influential French did not think there was such a high unemployment ( at the time the rate was 10%) rate in France for which he gave the following account: Of the 3 million unemployed in France 1 million were in the latter part of their working life (middle aged) who would not be able to ever find a job but were well looked after by the state. One million were Arabs or North Africans who were considered sh.t who would never be offered a job by French companies. The last one million were French youth and it was this group which was the most worrying. He said that the true French unemployment rate were the 1 million youth and that was not a really high number anyway.

This is how these people thought and that's why France will change only when there is a revolution. The hatred they have for the US could be easily seen at the time -- though then manifested in another way. At the time they thought the Americans were simply a country full of stupid people and of lesser social ranking than the French.”


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