The Big Reveal, part 1
Around this time last year, C took an exam in the hopes of entering into a program that would lead to a year of additional study. C is a man with a master plan, and he had planned on taking that test, at that time, every since entering into his chosen domain. And he aced it - he got the best score in the Paris region, so he should have been a shoe-in for the available spot right? Except no. Because the unions stepped in and said that the number 1 person last year got that spot, so this year it should be based on seniority. And because the French administration does anything they can to avoid reasons for striking, they agreed and poor C was told to try again next year.
C just sort of took it in stride - after all, in his line of work, getting things based upon seniority is extremely common. But I'm telling you, it made me ANGRY. The man memorized the entire French penal code. Do you have any idea how long and complicated that is? I watched him study for this test on a daily basis for 9 frickin' months. NINE MONTHS. He had stacks and stacks of flash cards that he studied during his daily commute, and it got to the point where you could say "What's law 422-25?" and he'd tell you in a heartbeat. He studied so much that he ended up writing a 1000+ page study guide for this test in order to help future candidates because one didn't exist. But yet some dude who didn't study at all and barely got a passing score got the spot.
Now C's original plan was to get accepted, do the course, get another year of experience and then move on into the private sector. But then the unions put a kink in that plan, and we had to decide what to do. Sit around in a job that didn't really interest him anymore for another year and then wait and try again and hope the unions don't intervene? Or change tactics?
C went for the second option, and decided to ask for a leave of absence. As you may or may not know, French fonctionnaires can take an up to ten year leave of absence and still come back to their same job at the same pay. So instead of waiting another two years to do that, he decided to do it now and put in his request. For a multitude of reasons, but mainly because there was a hiring freeze in his department = no new employees coming in, his request was denied.
So we were back to the drawing board again. At this point, I was feeling pretty darn frustrated with The Man. I was just so tired of seeing people who came to their job with excitement basically ended up as worker drones because showing any kind of initiative or progress was discouraged by the masses. There are so many inefficiencies in the French government, yet any attempt to change that is seen as disobedience, not progress. "We have always done it this way, so we will always do it this way." And the fact that they usually promote based on seniority and not capability was my last straw. So under my influence (something I still feel guilty about to this day), C decided to.......