Friday, March 18, 2005

Scrum halves and sloping shoulders

I was talking a little while back about French bureaucracy's breathtaking ability to avoid responsibility. I've had another experience this morning that instantly clicked with the idea of world class scrum halves. (With the rubgy 6 nations super saturday coming up, and Wales in with a chance of first grand slam since 1978, my mind is full of rugby words.)

Phone any official office, and if you can make it through the automated menus, the limited and occasionally bizarre office hours (which between them have taken me three days), you might just get the chance to speak to someone.

Now I have learned that you need to be absolutely sure that this person IS ABSOLUTELY the right person, and that takes either research OR luck OR persistence, and ususally a hefty mix of all three.

Because the first thing this person will tell you (usually extremely politely and helpfully) is that it has nothing to do with them. They will then give you another agency/office/phone number and wish you a pleasant afternoon. They are so good at this, that you may feel that you have had an exemplary customer care experience, and even having mistakenly contacted this person, they have been very helpful. They will pass you on like an oval ball at speed, without you even noticing.

Naive beyond measure. In fact you will realise when you put the phone down that you have just witnessed the best off-load of a pressure ball you are likely to see all season. And our bureaucratic scrum half, not a hair out of place, can carry on filing her nails, making coffee, or gossiping until the next passing opportunity comes up.

I've noticed the adverts in the papers for 'concours' (competitions) for recruiting new 'fonctionnaires' (civil servants); I wonder if these events involve rugby balls at all?

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