My Original Recipe for Getting Fired In France

So you’ve just uprooted yourself and settled in on the other side of the globe.  You’re starting to get used to the culture, and starting to pick up the language.  But soon you miss working and, more to the point, making money.

Sure, you could get a job in a beret factory or start sketching tourists next to landmarks, but why not get a job with the local branch of a famous American corporation that may or may not be noted for oil-drenched chicken in cardboard paint buckets?  You know the food, you grew up with the food – hell, you might even have worked for the corporation before at one of the other restaurants they own.

It’ll be a great primer job – get you used to the language, used to working in this foreign culture.  But you don’t want to work there forever, do you?  A month sounds about right, no?  Well, you’re in luck!  French employers give people a one-month probationary period before they’re actually hired.  It’s paid and everything, but after that month is up they’ll either hire or fire you.

So, your goal is to get fired at the end of your one-month probationary period.  Here’s how to make that happen (these may seem counter-intuitive, but from personal experience, they work):

  • Pay Close Attention And Learn Things The First Go Round:
    You’re not an expert in the language yet – far from it.  So be sure to pay very close attention when they’re teaching you something and learn it right the first time.  This will make it seem like you think you’re smarter than them and will annoy them to no end.
  • Take Pride In Your Work:
    Remember, France is a socialist state.  There is no place for pride in the workplace and it will surely make you seem out-of-place.
  • Work Hard, Build Some Muscle And Callouses:
    Even if the only thing they’ve given you is janitorial work, go at it like someone spiked your coffee with amphetamines.  Break a sweat mopping the floor.  Get blisters from scrubbing things.  Bulk up your upper body muscles by unloading twice as much as everyone else when the deliveries come.  This will make them want to fire you because when they agreed to try you out, you looked a lot better.  Now you reek of sweat after a five-hour shift, your hands have rough spots on them, and your arms are all lumpy.  Who wants a worker that looks like that?
  • Get Suggestions From Your Managers:
    I can’t stress this enough.  Nothing screams fire me like annoying questions.  So at the end of your first AND second weeks with the company, seek out the managers you worked with and ask them if they have any suggestions about your work.  If they tell you “You work like a Frenchman” or “You worked well”, as my managers said to me, then you know you’re on the right track towards getting fired.
  • Ask About The Rules And For A Clear Definition Of Your Job:
    This ties in with the one above about annoying questions.  It may seem prudent to ask a few times for an employee handbook or some sort of rulebook, given that you’re working in a foreign culture where the rules are obviously going to be different.  But it’s not.  It’s just annoying.  And again, if some of the managers have been contradicting other managers about what you’re actually supposed to be doing, asking directly for clarification let’s them know that you think they’re all idiots who couldn’t manage a kindergarten nap time.
  • If You Finish Your Work Early, Try To Learn Something New:
    This serves a double purpose: one, it lets them know that you hate doing what they told you to do.  Two, it lets them know that you are not at all hesitant to displace other workers to achieve your personal goals.  Remember, it’s a socialist state.  Endangering the livelihood of another worker by learning their job is a direct threat.  Go for it!

Congratulations, you’re guaranteed to be fired now!  If you’ve followed the above steps, I can guarantee that you will be fired at the end of your one-month probationary period.

I cleaned their clocks. No, really. Their clocks are really shiny now.

Note: While the explanations above are pure and absolute bullshit intended to make you laugh (did it?), this article perfectly describes my first experience working in France.  I did all the things listed above, and at the end of my probationary period they fired me, saying it was “too difficult” to employ me.  I was floored when they told me they had decided not to hire me permanently.  The day before, my supervisor had told me what an awesome job I was doing.  Earlier in the day I had received a notice for an employee physical.  Then BAM! Fired.

Now, aside from being pretty pissed about the whole thing, I also have the shame and embarrassment of having been fired from a fast food job.  Now, I’ve worked some jobs where I knew I deserved to get fired.  I’ve been a horrible employee at some companies.  But this was not one of them.  I worked very hard for them.  And I have NEVER been fired from something so basic as janitorial work at a fast food restaurant.  At least I have the satisfaction that, looking back, while there are a few things I could have done better over the course of the month, there isn’t all that much.

Well, at least now I’m ‘free’ to look for a new job, armed with some experience of the French workplace.  In the meantime I’ll have time for my hands to heal and my back and shoulders to stop hurting.


7 thoughts on “My Original Recipe for Getting Fired In France

  1. Great post! But that just stinks. 😦 I think you did the right thing by working hard no matter what the job was. Possessing a good work ethic is important and those people were crazy to let you go. I hope your next job is more enjoyable for you and that your skills are appreciated. 🙂

  2. Thanks Niki. Love your consistent feedback.

    I’m kinda having a hard time dealing with it (the post wasn’t too passive-aggressive/sarcastic, was it?). But hopefully soon I’ll have a better job and all this will be a moot point.

  3. Herring, thanks for subscribing – I’ll try not to let ya down.

    Lelia, I’m sure I will. I keep hearing English teachers are in high demand right now, and I keep meaning to act on that… Ok, I WILL get my CV done this weekend.

    Kama, yes. Yes it does. 🙂

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