The Guardian recently reported that French labor unions have signed a deal that would “oblige staff to ‘disconnect’ from work calls and emails after working hours to ensure they receive the full minimum rest periods already mandated in French employment regulations.” The agreement comes in the wake of an avalanche of complaints from workers, suggesting that they have been forced to feel “on the clock” even after leaving work.
I’m conflicted: does this news make me wish I were French even harder than I usually do, or does it make me wonder how it’s possible that we — the French and the Americans — can possibly, actually occupy the same world. And I think I’m going with the latter.
Sure, it would be great if work actually ended at an ideal 6PM. There are a number of pastimes I could actually claw my teeth into — like getting a head start on recreational drinking, or appreciating instead of despising the art of a 30 minute, hands-free manicure. Amelia said she might take up learning a new language while I insisted I would probably cull a new hobby. Something like bowhunting or knitting. Maybe I would learn to churn cheese or do Karate.
All that free time would probably facilitate my becoming a further diverse and dynamic individual, but when I think about the French, I don’t think about a plethora of esoteric (if not useful!) extracurricular activities. Instead I picture a distinct brand of streamlined joie-de-vivre, and I’m just not sure my depleting attention span could handle that genre of leisure. So for now, I am totally cool with the fact that to work means to live and not the other way around.
For the sake of wishful-ish thinking, though, what would YOU do with all your newfound time if the United States were to implement such a rule. Better yet, actually, how do you think the corporations of America would react to such a decree? I’m LOL-ing just thinking about it.