Prend Une Pause, Pourquoi Pas?

In the building where I work, there are quite a few offices. It just so happens that the office next to mine is full of women and, like, two guys. I have absolutely no idea what this company does. They have a name plate on their door that’s the size of a postage stamp and it gives no indication as to what kind of work these people actually do, if any.

Now before you start in about the French and work, I’ll have you know that the girls in my office (who happen to both be French) are hard workers. They hardly ever leave for lunch, never take breaks and they show up on time. One even stays late occasionally, so I’m sure the following is not a “nationality” thing (it’s more like a national past time thing).

So, back to my story. The reason I’m commenting on this is because I’ve watched the people in the office next door since I started working here. Their schedule cracks me up. I don’t know how many people are actually in this office (that does whatever they do), but every single day, without fail, they take structured, routine, habitual breaks.

I’m talking “on the dime time”, too. They always arrive at 8:00am and every day, without missing a beat, three girls and one guy (always the same ones) leave at exactly 10am to go on a break outside and snack and/or smoke. They stay out there until exactly 10:15am. I swear! I did an experiment and watched them for awhile. I couldn’t help myself, cuz I was so amazed by this.

Then, like clockwork, at 12:00 on the dot, the same four people leave and go to lunch and they don’t return until exactly 2:00pm. Every day!!! I’ve seen it, I swear!

Then, come 3:30pm they’re on break again until 3:45pm. I’m astounded at this. The same foursome all head for the stairs and out they go for another snack (how the heck they can be hungry after a two hour lunch is beyond me) and/or smoke break.

When 5pm rolls around they’re outta here and moving the fastest I’ve ever seen anyone leave work.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but that doesn’t add up to the traditional French 7 hour work day. That’s more like 6 ½ hours of work in a day. What does this company know that I’m missing? You wanna know what else?? These people actually take off for the month of August, as well! Yup-I’m talking office is closed down, locked tight and dust is collecting on the floor.

After watching this take place, I swear I better never hear anyone of them complaining about their work or the schedule they keep (while they are outside my window snacking and /or smoking away). If that ever happens, I’m talking WWF smack down right there!

I know that everyone needs a break now and then, but really?? Like clockwork?? They got this French schedule down to a science. I’m jealous, but I also want to know how anyone over there ever gets their work done? They’re always on break!

Before today, I hadn’t seen anyone else take breaks as often as these guys (granted I’m not running around the building being the hall monitor or anything), but today, I saw something else that just cracked me up. It was a beautiful day out, so I decided to make a trash run. I could use some fresh air and get a bit of exercise so I cleaned up some of the office and went to take the trash out. About half way to the trash cans there were two girls out front of the building next to me taking a break and having a smoke. Okay, no big deal. When I was done tossing the trash, I decided to have a seat out front for a few minutes and enjoy the sun. I went inside before they did so their break must have been a good one.

Later that day (around 4 hours later), I still had some clean up to do and so I made another run to the trash cans outside. Low and behold, those same two girls were standing out front of their building having another smoking break! Good grief, whatever is going around sure is catchy…

Again, after getting rid of the trash I took a seat to enjoy some sun shine and again I went inside before they did. I tell you, folks, I got to get the inside scoop on this. I’ve never seen anything like it especially coming from the states where you feel totally guilty for just leaving your desk to go to the bathroom! I’m not kidding, everyone makes you feel bad if you stop working for 5 minutes (all you people in the states know exactly what I’m talking about, too). Heaven forbid if your boss sees you leave for even 30 seconds, dang, heads will roll!

Well, I can tell you that these girls and the people next store do not have guilt written on them anywhere. No way.You wanna know what look they have? It’s the “my God given right to take a damn break” look is what that is. There’s not one ounce of guilt on these people’s faces when you see them taking off for their daily “prend une pause”. Sheesh. I’m not sure I can get to level.

I’ll be here my whole life and still feel guilty about leaving for 5 minutes. I’m putting it out there that I am totally jealous that these guys can take their long lunches and numerous breaks and not feel guilty. I admit it. I can’t bring myself to act on my jealousness and jump in and join them, but the jealousy is there none the less.

Well, all I got to say is, “Vive la France (et prend une pause!)” cuz they’re gonna do it anyway.

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About backyardprovence

I was finally able to realized my dream of living in France when I moved here in 2010. I love to read,I love history and road trips. I want to be doing anything outside in the fresh air. I want to have an entire room devoted to a personal library.

Posted on September 20, 2011, in French Daily and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Sounds like a dream company to work with! Perhaps they are conducting a study on the effects of taking breaks on work effiency. Or else it may be a local office of the Conseil Général (you”ll get my point once you have seen it there for yourself…).I wonder if they are taking applications at this time…Well this reminds me of that company that uséd to be next door and whose activity Was to créate or invent catchy names for brands. What kind of actual work is that? Seems they have moved near your office…

    • You so crack me up Bernard! Yes- I think the office near you moved next to me! Either that or they have a sister company! I will let you know if they have any openings 🙂 I haven’t been to the Conseil Général, but I will take your word for it.

  2. Well! they must be doing something right. Maybe they just use it as a meeting lace for a get-together. Good luck to them is all I can say. Although with my 14 hour working days I must add that I too am a little jealous.

    • You said it! Man, I hate it when those 14 hour days come around. I’ve definitely had more than my share! Hopefully, that doesn’t happen too often for you. It makes life so tiring. I will have to continue to tame the green-eyed monster, for now. When I see the people from next door, I wonder if they see my eyes change colour on the spot!

  3. I worked only 12 hours at the office plus 1 hour at home tonight with no lunch break (try to eat a sandwhich while driving, it’s fun I swéar). The day is near when I join your famed 14 hour-a-day club . Not sure I should rejoice though! Your office neighbors have a good hourly rate when you think about it. I am sure they all cheer for overtime.

    • Well, if I count right (and I am no mathematician ) you already rack up 13 hours a day so by all accounts, you’re in the club! Have a drink on me 🙂 Don’t those long days just make you nuts? I am so tired and now I have a two hour drive round trip to the office to boot! I love adding all these crazy extras to my life to make it more uncomfortable. I flock to stuff like that and I don’t know why? Do you, by and chance, work for an American company? If not, never fear, one would hire in a heart beat based on those hours!

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