Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Subway-Work-Sleep. Métro-Boulot-Dodo. This is my life at the moment, although the dodo is suffering to the benefit of my blog.

Voilà the Parisian lament. I often get "you lazy European" comments from friends and family back home, who justly covet my six weeks of vacation. I think they imagine that here in France we spend three weeks on the beach, two weeks skiing, a week with family at Christmas, and the rest of the year getting the odd hour or two of work done between long breaks at sidewalk cafés. While it's true that the weeks of vacation are sacred (as anyone who's looked for an open restaurant in Paris in the month of August can attest), I maintain that French workers are just as productive as Americans, perhaps more so.

Of course, I have nothing to back this theory up except my own experience working for exactly one technology company over two and a half years. Not much of a scientific sampling, I'll admit. I've simply noticed that people in Paris tend to stay later and spend their time at their desk more productively than a lot of my colleagues back in the US. Web browsing is infrequent, instant messaging is unheard of, even if we take coffee breaks seriously, we get a lot done. Of course, it may just be because our project is dangerously behind schedule.

Like most aspects of my life, I'm tempted to take my individual experience and extrapolate it to all things French or American. Since I'm often the only American in a group of interested and relatively uninformed French, or vice versa, people often take the ridiculous generalizations I make seriously. Not too much of a worry, really: if they listen to me long enough, I'm bound to contradict myself. And there's always something true enough hidden in my observations, I suppose.

The Métro part of my day is about two and a half hours, less if I snag a ride with a kind colleague who lives in my neighborhood. Boulot is averaging nine hours at the moment, not including a nice lunch break when I often escape for a noontime run. Given the level of stress, the slipping deadlines, and the proximity of the big boss' office to my own, I feel this is rather reasonable.

I'm still exhausted. Dodo for me.

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