Fino’s Guide to the French – Issue #9 – Rants

“The ideal form in the French mind of a movie queue is a half-circle” Michael Finocchiaro (2010)

OK so this will be a short post with a few rants and I will OF COURSE do a post tomorrow with RAVES about France and the French to keep the balance sheet even. Besides, I already ranted about French dog poo, Parisian service, and about French drivers so my list is thinning out…

Rant #1: Business meetings. The French seem to take pride in arriving late to meetings. I suppose it makes them feel important or something but it tends to be highly annoying. This also applies to private life and meeting times in say bars or restaurants. Fino’s rule of thumb: always tell a French person you’ll be there 15 minutes before you plan to, that way you’ll only have to wait for about 15 minutes…

Rant #2: If you don’t ask the precisely correct question, you’ll never get the answer. Corollary: If you don’t already know the answer, you’ll never be able to ask the question. If you ask a French person that you don’t know (say someone from the French Administration for example) a question, they will 9 times out of 10 either tell you that your question is stupid, ignore you, or give you misleading information. It is CRITICAL to ask the question precisely in the manner which the listener is expecting it otherwise it is utterly impossible to get a straight answer. This is one of those “pull-your-hair-out” gotchas that can be so annoying that it is beyond my power of speech or writing to describe. There are the exceedingly rare occasions where you’ll get the answer but they will still more often than not try to make you feel that you are wasting their precious time by asking such an irrelevant question.

Rant #3: Lettre recommandé. French companies and administrations have an obsession with registered mail. You come home from work and find your mailbox stuffed with yellow slips saying (and I paraphrase), “You weren’t here so we have kept your [letter, parcel, etc] in our office in [Timbuktu] and you can come and get it sometime tomorrow at the earliest”. What’s annoying about that? Well, the next day you ALWAYS have somewhere to be and the afternoon queue at the French Post Office is like those on opening night of Hollywood blockbuster movies. OK, so it is getting better but why send everything registered mail?

Rant #4. Queues. And speaking of queues (and finally referring to my quote), I can’t stand being cut off (I believe I mentioned this habit in French drivers previously) in lines as a pedestrian. At the bank, waiting for the ATM machine, at the Post Office, at the movies…it is another highly annoying thing – even to most French people. The most common form is the older person who ignores your body mass and squeezes just in front of you and then gives you a look like “so I dare you to sock me one because I look old and weak and everyone will think you are a old-folk-hating asshole if you hit me”. Ohhh it is so tempting to pull the rubber hose off their oxygen tank when they give you that look…

And to finish this series on a smiley note, Raves


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
This entry was posted in blogging, life-in-france, Paris, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Fino’s Guide to the French – Issue #9 – Rants

  1. Pingback: The more things change -and- Take it as a challenge | Fino's Weblog

  2. Arnaud says:

    Un grand moment de rigolade. Et tellement vrai…

  3. Pingback: Angry Birds: Psychological Profile | Fino's Weblog

  4. Pingback: Fino’s Guide to the French – Issue #8 – Exceptions and opposites | Fino's Weblog

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