Jul 29, 2010

Les vacances

The following conversation takes place mid-morning, on a weekday.  The sun is making its way through the clouds.  Tourists are heaving their backpacks around the cobbled streets of Paris.  Res, a very young-looking thirty-something, is walking towards home carrying a large pot of paint and new underwear, uncovered in the final day of the sales.  She is the only French person about - all other Parisians still in the city at the end of July are safely tucked inside their offices.

Res' phone rings.  It is her very good, equally over-educated, unemployed friend.  Let's call her Mona.

Mona: "Hi!  What are you up to this week?"
Res: "Painting the new flat.  It's hard work."
Mona: "Sounds like it.  Should we have cocktails tomorrow afternoon?"
Res: "God yes, I'm exhausted.  I really could use a drink."
Mona: "Any news on the job front?"
Res: "Nope.  Still waiting to hear back about interviews.  Refreshing my email fifteen times an hour.  Checking my phone's batteries.  Harassing recruiters.  That sort of thing.  You?"
Mona: "Same.  The problem is, everyone's on vacation."
Res: [Long, drawn-out sigh]
Mona: "I think I need to go on vacation."
Res: "Mmmm."
Mona: "You know, we're entitled to five weeks a year."
Res: "Five weeks a year of what?"
Mona: "Of vacation."
Res: [stops walking, cocks head to the left] "I don't understand."
Mona: "We're entitled to five weeks a year of vacation."
Res: "But we're unemployed."
Mona: "It's the law, apparently."
Res: "It's the law that we're entitled to vacation?"
Mona: "Yes."
Res: [puts heavy bucket of paint down to scratch her head] "But aren't we always on vacation?"
Mona: "Well -"
Res: "I mean, isn't that sort of the definition of unemployment? Not having to go to work?"
Mona: "But during five weeks a year we're allowed to not think about looking for a job."
Res: "We're allowed to not think about looking for a job?"
Mona: "Yes."
Res: "So you're going to take a week off and not think about looking for a job?"
Mona: "That's right.  I'm not going to think about it for a whole week."
Res: "Huh."
Mona: "We're entitled to it."
Res: "Right."  [pause]  "Do you know if unpublished writers are also entitled to five weeks of not thinking about writing?"

1 comment:

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...


Love the logic here. And hey, when in France, do as the French do! ;-)