La peur du vide

When checking the translation for my title, it said  fear of heights. But really, it’s literally fear of emptiness.

Here is an ad I saw today for cleaning ladies:

We are recruiting our future “Talents“!
Our network of personal services agencies now has more than 150 local agencies spread all over France. Our mission is to turn “service jobs” into “HUMAN JOBS” and that is thanks to our talented staff members!

You may think – as I did – that the style of the ad is a little pompous and convoluted but keep in mind that this kind of job may take you to another level:

Family & Social Life Intervention Technician (basically, cleaning & feeding elderly people in a nursing home or working with individuals with diminishing autonomy).


But maybe you’re young and need to learn a few skills before you start working. Why don’t you train to become a Versatile Cleaning Agent?

There’s a company which is looking for a cleaning and hygiene apprentice willing to prepare for the CAP (French basic degree). If you’re wondering, yes, France has a degree to become a cleaning and hygiene agent!

Wonder what’s the mission like?

  • Routine office maintenance
  • maintenance of sanitary facilities and common areas
  • Cleaning of professional premises

Tempting, isn’t it not?


There’s a popular saying here which goes ” In France, we don’t have any petrol or oil, but we have ideas”. There… it says it all! We are not a practical people, but we’re very creative. We make up new job titles, new degrees and trainings and different types of professionnal contracts every month. Unfortunately it seems as an applicant, you’re always too young, too old, too qualified, under qualified…

Do you also have “bullshit jobs” in your country? That the latest trend over here. And they’re usually super well paid. These are for people who actually followed a bullshit pricey college curriculum in a private business/management/communication obscure institute for which they have taken a student loan out. Nobody really know what they do apart from taking decisions, and networking with fellow bullshiters!

Unfortunately for the country, we also need people to do classic jobs – those which have existed for many years. Those which used to a have a normal name (waiter, cashier, assistant, cleaner…). Practical jobs. Production jobs. Service jobs. These should be easy to get because they require few qualifications. But they are also those where the wages are ridiculously low. And the work conditions…!

Willing to work weekends? Silly shifts with a four-hour break in the middle of the day? Resistant to stress and pressure? Not expecting to be trained while working to try and get an interesting promotion? Not expecting a raise above 1,50€ per month? Bingo…

Although the Covid lockdown showed how important these jobs were, they are back to the land of zero respect, zero perspective. No matter how fancy their new names can be, they are still looked down upon.

However, when you think about it, aren’t you pleased to be served your morning coffee with a large smile and a friendly chat with the barista? Isn’t it a real asset when the shop assistant help you get the perfect outfit? Aren’t you relieved when you know the person who is in charge of your elderly mother is a caring, reliable and sweet person?


As I was searching for a quote to end this post, Google misguided me badly towards “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck; and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly“. How ironic!

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be honest with you Ralph, people expect to be happy too! But I guess a job listing all these qualities would make me pretty happy…

Here is to respectful working-class opportunities in the future!

5 thoughts on “La peur du vide

  1. Wow, the idea JUST crossed my mind about the French having so many little, specialized jobs in France! When I lived in France, I noticed that there are many workers who do such jobs, from being the greeter at a boutique shop to helpers at the grocery self checkouts. I think it’s great that France loves to “create” these jobs to make sure that its people have work, but I do agree that it also creates convoluted contracts, underpaid salaries, and potential exploitation. But after I experienced a few months of unemployment in the US (where even entry-level jobs are tough to get for college-educated individuals), I think having a job that’s frowned upon is better than nothing. After all, a job’s a job!

    Like

    1. Well… they don’t really create jobs. It’s the multiple names which are created!! Entry-level jobs aren’t usually very tempting so they’re are now called with fancy appellations! I too think having a job that’s frowned upon is better than nothing. ..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No matter the job, no matter the title, it is all about job satisfaction. I had a higher paid job with a fancy title but the workplace was a nightmare. After becoming ill, I opted for a lower-paid job with a great bunch of people and I was there ten years! Being a professional can apply to any level of job. I get quite irritated when some people through no fault of their own cannot attain a high-level job and although they do an excellent job, have a great work ethic and are an essential service, they are looked down as – with comments like – oh you are just a cleaner. Disgusting attitude mostly from bigoted high flyers who don’t do anything as you pointed out. Not everyone can have a degree and shuffle paper or numbers around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you about the job satisfaction aspect.
      My point was madly about todays environment where necessary basic jobs are underpaid when other fancy non productive upper grade ones are admired and very well paid.
      I wish we were all more down to earth and that people should be paid for the quality of their individual work and not for the title…
      Completely unrealistic in France…

      Liked by 1 person

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