A short psychological study of the French - by a non-psychologist
The only study of psychology that I have ever undertaken was the use of dictionary.com to make sure that I spelt the word correctly. Don't be alarmed you may continue reading. Who knows you may laugh or actually learn something.
I've been here in France for nearly two years. I work for a multi-national company that was once part of a very large, previously state-owned French manufacturing company (which still exists today). When I got the job here I had no idea what 90% of the documents that I signed meant, my status in the company or anything else that any rational human being would consider important when quitting their job and country and moving several hundred miles. But I don't regret the move.
Now back to the analysis. Since I did five years at university I started as a Cadre. Basically that means 'grooming for management'. People with less than five years at university find it very hard to become Cadre in my company. There are levels called ATAM and Technician and what not for those that haven't been able to become Cadre. As I quickly found out, the fact that one is Cadre means that one will be management. The fact that one isn't Cadre means that there is no possibility of ever being management. Your career at the company is decided the day you start work. Working very hard and being very good makes no difference. Going to the right university and of course having Baccalauriate + 5 will allow you to become a senior manager. From what I have seen, the top two levels of management all went to the same type of university.
So, no way to become senior if you haven't done the right time in the right place.
As myself, Merde in France
and others have said many times before, France is a very expensive country in which to do business. Setting up a company in order to do consulting work (such as an IT Contractor) is expensive, bureaucratic and the taxes are prohibitive. People do it but the return is in my humble opinion, not worth it. I pay 27% of my salary each month for things like health insurance, pension benefits and other stuff which nobody seems able to explain properly. This is not counted as income tax. That comes around once a year and pays for Jacques flights overseas with his family when he wants, my favourite group : the unemployable, and the farmers among others. If I understood correctly whatever you earn, the company has to pay another 60% for various charges. Scary stuff.
SO on one hand we have the Human Resources department deciding your future based on how long you were at university (and therefore what sort of salary you'll get for the rest of your life), we have the state taking away so much of your hard earned cash to give to people who probably have trouble spelling hard earned, we have laws that make it impossible to fire lazy good-for-nothings even if incompitent, we have laws that make it nearly impossible to pay for overtime (thankyou the 35 hour week), we have a management structure that has nothing to do with ability or skill, and we have the crazy drivers.
What for the psychology here it comes. Since the French have so much that they cannot control and/or cannot change to make their lives better (except for the long holidays) the drive like maniacs. And here is why : it is the only area of their lives where nobody controls them. There are no police (they're on strike for more holidays and an earlier retirement), there are no speed cameras, there is nobody who actually gives a damn because they are all in their own little uncontrolable environment.
Tonight while driving hope in the pissing rain (the French say is rains like pissing cows which I quite like), the drivers continued to drive like we were in bright, dry weather. If it wasn't for the traffic jam, I am sure that they would have tried breaking the speed limit. One guy behind me got undertaken by a woman who filtered in from a slip road. He couldn't let her be, oh no! He undertook her and then got off at the next exit (about half a mile further on). Then just when I thought what a dickhead he was, another driven decided that he didn't like being in a line of cars and decided that he was important enough for the hard shoulder.
One good outcome from the evening's drive home is that I only saw two accidents and those only involved two cars each instead of the normal three or eight (I kid you not). That's it. My psychological analysis of the French. I'm sure that I'll do some more during my time here.