Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nice days, green cards, and time wasted on travel

The weather was great today. Unfortunately, the day was wasted for me. I had to go to the prefecture to pick up my new residency card, but when I got there, the computer was broken, and so now I’ll have to ask for another day off and try again next week.

I have an operating policy that says that nothing ever requires less than half a day. No appointment requires less than a half-day, no matter what’s on the schedule. This holds for anything that requires going anywhere outside your own office building. In theory, it should only take a few minutes to pick up a card. But in fact you wait in line for two or three hours. And then there’s the time required to get there and get back, which involves public transportation, waiting, and walking. All in all, half a day is the minimum required. Very often, meetings can blow a whole day. People who think they can do three meetings in three different places without a team of handlers to shuttle them from place to place at exactly the right times are dreaming.

Traveling by air (which I despise, even though I like airplanes) is another example. No trip by airplane lasts less than four hours, no matter what the time actually spent in the air. That’s because getting to and from the airport, waiting, checking in, going through paranoid security, and putting up with universal delays adds four hours to the trip, even if the flight itself lasts five minutes.

It follows from this that any trip that can be completed using another mode of transportation in less than four hours should not be carried out by air. This is certainly true here in Europe, where high-speed trains make train travel faster, easier, and more comfortable if you’re traveling less than 1000 kilometers (which nearly covers all of France). The Eurostar challenges this by creating air-travel-style delays, but most trains are more efficient than that.

Anyway, I never go outside Paris except for an occasional visit to Disneyland, so travel is irrelevant to me. My last few passports have been blank, since I never go outside France.
Today’s nice weather probably won’t last. If the temperature was ideal today (about 16° C, which is nearly ideal for me), that implies that it will get warmer tomorrow, and eventually it will get hot. We’ll see.

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