News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
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Monday, April 13, 2009

No Friction Required

Just a very quick note on our progress - We are buried in moving prep. Our own meager personal possessions are mostly packed, but the packing and transport of the business stock remains. Movers arrive next Monday, so between now and then we probably will not sleep. Oh joy.

I wanted to post a quick word regarding blame, flames, etc. I knew there would be some degree of anger over our circumstances in some quarters. The first manifestation of this was from some asshole French poster who thought the best response to the wrenching and extremely difficult circumstances of our move was to post a comment along the lines of, "So, you don't like our country? Go back to the US then, we don't want you here - the US is the cause of all the world's problems and caused the depression that's eating the world economy! Etc, etc..." I read this, shook my head over the idiocy of the poster, and yanked the comment because I knew it would only incite flames from our US friends and in the current situation, I have absolutely zero tolerance for having the blog turn into a flame war between offended nationalists.

A lot of American friends and folks in the business have gotten extremely offended at the French in general over what has happened to us. The level of anger expressed in emails and calls has been high, and a friend even opted to cancel a large order of French champagne over this (I posted a personal reply asking that he reconsider, that none of our misfortunes are the fault of an innocent champagne vendor who probably needs every sale he can get in these difficult times). I wanted to post this quick note to stress that there is no need for either side to get angry on the basis of nationalism - Our problems are not with "The French" in general, but with some very specific aspects of the French system. French people are not all evil malcontents - in fact, most are incredibly warm, welcoming, friendly, intelligent, and great fun. The French pipe club has been incredibly nice to us ever since we arrived here.

No, our problems boil down to three areas that most native, salaried French citizens never encounter -

  • Accounting. Through bad fortune, we got hooked up initially with a pack of accountants who are the most useless pack of verminous assholes one could never want to meet, and have had our energies and time drained for seven years by having to flog them to get any results at all, all while struggling to understand a foreign tax system with no help from these shits.
  • Administration. The French themselves understand this one very well - It's the overall fixation that the government has on paper, regardless of its impact on the lives of its citizens, and the inane difficulty of getting anything done here, on a business level.
  • TPB. Yep, "That Préfecture Bitch" has been such a feature of our lives that she even has her own shorthand initials. The level of paperwork and hassle required simply to justify our residence here, year after year, has been beyond imagination, and this is not even counting the fact that the official in question would regularly lie about what papers had been received, never file anything on time, and required constant hounding just to get her to do her damn job. We've done all we can to live here legally, we pay taxes - HER salary - and still every year it's the same... weeks of lost working time chasing down visa papers plus multiple trips in person to Nantes, because of course nothing will get done unless we actually go there in person. Fax? Email? Forget it. Meanwhile all around us, illegal immigrants live and work unhindered by all of this, and while we pay half our income to support the French state, they burn buses, cars, schools, and entire neighborhoods just for kicks.
So, in a nutshell, while I have no control over what rancor may erupt among blog readers on either side of the pond, I just wanted to stress that I personally have no problems with the French citizenry at all, and think they're wonderful people. Indeed, I think living under the weight of the bureaucracy they must endure has helped to shape them into kind and understanding folks with a keen insight into the BS level of "the system". We've met some of the best friends we have in the world here.

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