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Work/Life Balance and my [fictional] trip to Paris

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Jim just sat down to dinner with his family. They were enjoying a nice relaxing conversation, catching up.

“So I was telling you about my the ballet….”

She was interrupted by a loud BEEP! emanating from Jim’s pocket.

He looked at the number. Work again! Every time he sat down with his family, which seemed rare these days there was some crisis at work that needed his assistance.

He used to look at it as job security, but seriously! It was getting so old.

All hours of the day…he wasn’t even on call!

“I guess I have to take this, honey…”

Her face fell. “I know, I know…” she said with visible disappointment.

This could be a typical dinner scene here in modern America. The antithesis of the Ozzie and Harriet scenes in the ‘50s. [Although, I seem to remember Mr. Nelson being distracted by the newspaper a few times.]

The lines of work and play are so blurred, they are almost indistinguishable.

France has decided to do something about it. Actually, they did something about it in 1999. They passed legislation that work hours are work hours and non-working hours are to be non-working hours. Back then, the law stated that employers are not to call between 9pm-6am, under the threat of a hefty fine. The emergence of Smartphones changed all of that, however, and employers were still bugging employees on off-hours. So they amended it to 6pm.

Meanwhile we here in America [and other places in the world] are taking work phone calls, checking work emails, making work decisions at all hours of the day, even ones we’re not paid for. Even if we are not doing any of that, chances are, we are worrying, fretting about our work off hours.

So it would seem we are on our own. We can’t control the pressures from work, we can only change how we respond to them. If it were me, I just wouldn’t answer the phone. I’m not sure how realistic that is, though.

I am curious as to how this will all work for France. This might seem a little too good to be true. There are things obviously not being considered. So I am planning a fictional trip to France, using Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Miller, et al as my tour guides while researching how this will affect the everyday person’s life. Will it make their work-life better? Will it make their family life better? I’ll keep you posted on what I find.

I’m interested in your thoughts on all of this, as well as some Parisian book recommendations.

2014

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