mercredi 19 mars 2008

The natives are restless, bwana

At my new job, I am fortunate enough to have an office with a window (that even opens!) instead of the usual cubicle. It's meant to be a shared office, but there's nobody else in there for now. I'm on the first floor, facing the front of the building, so I can easily hear what's going on on the street below.

The building across from mine is apparently the local education administration building. For the last week, there have been loud "manifestations" (protests) going on in front of that building every single day. As a matter of fact, there were protests going on there the day I went in for my first interview at the company.

France has a long and proud history of public protest (which occasionally involves head-chopping, apparently), and it shows. While It seems to me that the protesters are getting louder each and every day (today they were banging on drums and blowing trumpets) and I find it distracts me terribly from my work, most of my work colleagues seem to be completely unfazed. I've asked some of my colleagues what all the fuss is about and most of them just shrugged, with my boss pointing out that "en France, c'est normal". At lunch the other day, when I again complained about the noise, one of my colleagues scratched his head and said "oh, yeah, I think I read something like they were going to reduce the number of teachers at one of the local schools." What's funny about this is that it's very obvious that the protesters are trying to make noise and be a nuisance to the education administration staff in order to get what they want. In doing so, they are being just as much of a nuisance to the people who work in all the adjacent buildings, who can hear all the racket just as clearly. Yet in my office, I seem to be the only one that's even remotely bothered by the noise. Nobody else seems to the point that nobody has even bothered to find out what it is these protesters want, how likely they are to obtain it, and therefore how likely they are to stay for days weeks or months making noise outside our windows. En France, c'est normal. So obviously it really isn't that much of a nuisance, the education administration staff probably gives about as much of a damn as my colleagues do and therefore their efforts are ultimately futile.

What I have noticed, though, is that the protesters take nice long lunch breaks. They're usually pretty quiet by about 11:30 and they don't get started again until 2 o'clock or so. En France, c'est normal.

2 commentaires:

Bacon Heather a dit…

ahhh...something that Paris and DC have in common: annoying, useless protesters. we've had all sorts of protesters on our street over the years because there is so much construction going on around my office and apparently the carpenters have a bone to pick with pretty much everyone. as irritating as it is, after a while you do get used to it because you have no choice. the only time i lose my mind is when they bang on pipes - those are the days when i work from home to avoid violence.

Diego a dit…

Today they didn't take lunch break, but they left early. I wonder if they get paid holidays ;-P

The difference between Paris and DC is the following: in DC you only get them in central parts of town close to where the "action" is. I used to work in Rosslyn (which is not that far out) and never saw any. Here in Paris I work way out in the sticks, but they're still around. Maybe politics are more local here.