If France Was A Comic Book Hero, The Girl Would Die

By:  Rachel Marsden

As someone who comes from a free and still somewhat capitalist first world country, I find doing business in France like stepping into a comic book. A really crappy comic book where everyone is a superhero but the girl has to save herself.

The media folks here are okay, because media around the world have to produce something. No one will pay you if you skip out on your TV show, let dead air fill your radio slot, or fail to fill column inches. So while the French media are largely leftist, they at least show up. And in France, that’s a huge accomplishment in itself.

But very few of the political and business people I have dealt with here in Paris can keep an appointment, even when it’s of direct benefit to them. One of these human Maginot Lines has been playing phone tag with me ten times per day for the past two weeks to set up an appointment, but is never aware of his schedule when he calls. This results in him having to call me back another nine times and me being dragged into a French remake of Groundhog Day. They all claim to be so “swamped” with “work” – which usually consists of something I could square away in an hour. In their case, it takes them all day and results in “exhaustion”.

So many French have their mouths latched onto Mother France’s deficit-supported bosom with little incentive to produce anything of value in order to draw a pay cheque. So here I am in Paris, doggedly shoving multipage propositions in all of their faces, and even if they do make it to our meeting, there’s still the “why should I act when I could be doing nothing at less risk to my image?” mentality with which to contend.

French political types, in particular, spend all day preening and running around to useless meetings. But they’re highly preoccupied with how they look while doing nothing. They specialise in constantly smoothing their tie and pulling on their expensive suit jacket. The voters really eat that up here. And no one is denied credit – or a title – in a socialist political system. I have never seen so many unimportant people with important titles.

President Sarkozy said in a press conference a couple of years ago that he wants Anglo capitalists and entrepreneurs to come to France, and that he wants to “help us mec monnay”. How precisely do you expect that to happen, mate?