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."
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?"
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?"
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."
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 [pause] "Do you know if unpublished writers are also entitled to five weeks of not thinking about writing?"