voyageuse sans billet

I have started writing for Techniktagebuch, a tumblr that collects stories of everyday technology. I have an even better excuse to take pictures of random things now! Case in point: an atm that lets you book a weekly train ticket onto your navigo pass (it’s like the London Oyster card).

navigo bankomat

It’s all in the name of research, now. I even shlepped across town on Sunday, just to try it out. It works just fine, by the way. And I got to use the Navigo pass a lot, this week.

A colleague from my French course told me about an organisation called AVEC (Action pour la Valorisation et l’Evolution de Carrière), who help people with their cv’s and motivation letters. So I googled them and found a pretty ugly website from 2002, complete with a visitor counter. The events listed were recent, though, so I emailed them but didn’t hear back for 2 weeks. More by chance than anything else, I discovered that they list two different email addresses on this website. So I tried the other address et voilà, I received a really fast and friendly response from them, pointing me to their “new website” (from 2013) that isn’t much prettier but at least lists the opening hours and only the valid email address.

They helped with my cv and cover letter. Their suggestion for the finishing sentence is the most bizarre I’ve encountered so far. It basically says: I would like to discuss my cv with you further, so I will call you in 8 days to set up an appointment.

So far, I couldn’t bring myself to include this sentence in an application. I even visited AVEC on Tuesday and asked again in person, if they are quite serious about this. I explained that I don’t want to call, because of the language barriere, so they suggested I announce an email for making an appointment instead. But I don’t get the point of that at all. If they happily ignore my applications, why should they reply to a request for an interview?

But I can’t complain, they were very helpful and friendly and even sent me an invitation for a job fair on Tuesday at Orly airport. There were workshops on offer and lots of companies (and the army and the police) had stalls there, also the unemployment services. I missed the deadline for signing up for any workshops, but then, as you can read above, I don’t take advice anyway. I figured checking out a job fair couldn’t hurt. Orly airport is only a couple of train stops plus a shuttle ride away. What I didn’t realise is that the 8 minute shuttle ride costs 9,30 €, one way and my navigo pass isn’t valid on this route.

I didn’t really have the courage to walk up to a stall and talk in broken French with a prospective employer. But I could use the “business center” to print my newly improved cv and I even left a copy with a company that advertised on a big pinboard. You were supposed to hand in the cv at a desk and say which code was mentioned on the job ad. And that’s how I learned to pronounce J (as opposed to G). It’s even similar to English.

It required all my courage but I also talked to a woman at a stall advertising short training programms called “Alternance”, where you participate in a course for 4 months and then have an internship for another 4 months. AVEC said the company is “serieux” (as in reputable).

Next week I’ll be be at the unemployment center and discuss my options. If I have any.

Going back from Orly airport, I didn’t notice any barriers or ticket machines, so I naïvely thought “How nice of them, it appears to be free to ride into town”. As soon as I left the shuttle and saw the barriers, my thoughts changed to “Oops, well maybe my ticket from the morning is still valid.” It wasn’t. There was another guy who didn’t have a ticket and felt his Navigo card should be valid and tried to discuss this with the person on duty. I fully expected to get into big trouble for not having a ticket, but the station supervisor just walked away.

I was pretty sure I could climb under the turnstile, but after that was another swinging door that wouldn’t open without a ticket. I was really worried about dumping lego all over the place, getting stuck in a door and making everything much worse. The other fare dodger had no such qualms and managed to squeeze through. In the end, I jumped up to the luggage rolly thingy ™ next to the turnstile, and rolled right through on my butt. I made a terrible racket, but nobody cared.

I have to practise the nonchalance, but there’s still hope I’ll become a Parisian.

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