Sunday, November 18, 2012

A day working in Paris

In my job I rarely need to go outstation. So, when my manager informed me that the management team will have a meeting in Paris, I was all excited. Now I get to experience the famous Parisian working life: Métro, boulot, dodo (Transport, work, sleep).

On a Wednesday morning, our team took the train to Paris. Two hours later, we got out of the train station, then continued our one hour journey on subway and bus.
One arrived, we were fascinated by the campus style headquarter. I felt like I was back in the USA, as offices consisted of huge buildings, everyone was wearing a badge with a photo, entrance guided by security guards.

We got our visiter pass and headed to the company restaurant for lunch. Several high ranking managers joined us. We got to have starter, main course, dessert accompanied with red wine along the meal. We were joking that if we were going to see our CEO, but one manager said he has never seen him eating in this restaurant. Later I chatted with my coworker, who wished that our top management could spend some times, walking into offices and have a little chat with their employees. Well, apparently in the traditional French companies, bosses still keep a distance from their employees, so you could only see them in the newspapers, company newsletters, but seldom in person.

After lunch, it was time to start working. The heartquarter was consisted of many open spaces, a concept I found revolutionary in France. Basically, there is no fixed spot for an employee, everyone comes to an open space and just take the next available spot. There are some cubicles and meeting rooms available for those who want to have phone calls. A coworker told us that he didn't get used to sitting and working beside a big big boss that he just gets to see once in a while.

I bumped into an ex coworker from R town, he just got transfered to Paris and he spends 3 hours everyday in subway and buses. We left at 6.30pm and jumped right into the peak hour traffic jams. The 15 minutes bus ride turned into an hour one and by the time we arrived in our hotel, we were exhausted. Not only from the long transportation time, but the crowd in the subway, the rushing from one subway line to another (don't know why within half day in Paris we all walked at the pace just like the Parisians). While being sardined in one of the subway lines we saw a group of girls jumping in last minute and immediately provoked an oral flight.

The day was not ended once we arrived in the hotel. We were invited to dine with some managers. I found the price exorbitant for what we got. The cocktail was not impressive, the starter and main course barely passed the standard I expected. Anyway, everyone was chatting and talking and at 11pm my mind was in the Zzzz land. We got back to the hotel at 1 am and we have a train to catch the next morning.

I'm glad I got to participate in this event but I don't think I can stand to do it often. I talked to my manager who goes to Paris often, he said he has to wake up at 5am so that he can catch a train to Paris to have the meeting at 9am. In the evening, he doesn't want to do anything but rest.

Anyway I think it all depends on personal choices. Certain people find Paris charming and could not stand living outside of Paris or its suburbs. Certain people condemn the hectic lifestyle. As for me, if I were younger and childless, I would properly venture into this City of Light.

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