Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, July 13, 2012

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.......

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Blogger Gwan said...

Dun dun dunnnnnn! I hope it works out in part 2, how frustrating! Yeah, I've had it up to here with the concours system, it's so frustrating to be shut out from jobs where they *want* someone with English-language abilities because in order to get the job I'd have to ace a fonctionnaire exam which has a 2% pass rate for French people :(

July 13, 2012 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I really hope it works out. It really does suck that the unions can just go in and strip something from someone who deserves it.

July 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Man, you sure know how to write cliffhangers! I hope you're working up to tell us how serendipitously it all turned out in the end--it sounds like your husband more than deserves everything he's been working towards.

July 13, 2012 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Wonky73 said...

I know what civil servant jobs are like. Spent three years in the system here. I was so glad when I got out of it. Rewards were not granted on merit but on either seniority or the score you got on tests that in most cases where 20 years out of date.

They specifically didn't allow merit raises or advancement. Shocker it produced a system where some people do as little as possible and game the system. There were people who worked hard and tried to do things correctly but that had way more to do with them as persons.

Rant over.

July 13, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Emily Marie said...

you're killing me!!

July 13, 2012 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

aw man. That really sucks. I would be furious, having been in a similar non-stop study situation for a long period of time. Having put all that effort and then passing, and then not getting it?

July 13, 2012 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Oooh can't wait to find out what you guys are up to! Max and I had conversations like yours and C's many times when we were in Paris and wanting out. Max was so fed up with The Man, and he felt like he wasn't being treated fairly. Thankfully we got transferred down here!

Hope all is well and that you are enjoying your cold, wet summer in Paris ;)

July 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM  

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