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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all,

Recently, I've been laid off from my job and I am now currently in the throes of experiencing firsthand all of the joys of hoop jumping to receive my benefits from the Pole Emploi. I am of course, very grateful that I am taken care of here in France with its social safety net, but wanted to share a rather frustrating and sadly comical story about my visit to the office in Antony yesterday.

I live about an hour away from this particular office, so once I had arrived I really needed to use the toilet. This was around 10am, so after having my morning American coffee, etc.

I was desperately eyeing around, trying to find where they were located. I finally saw the toilets and to my dismay, noticed that they were locked with a 'vigipirate' sign attached to them. This didn't look encouraging, but I waited in line until I got to the front, where the woman at the guichet confirmed to me that the toilets were indeed closed to the public.

I went and sat in the waiting room, now feeling extremely desperate, thinking about even leaving to run into a cafe or restaurant outside (although I wasn't even sure that there was really any place nearby that would have let me use their toilets).

I finally got to the point where I made a bit of a scene in front of everyone. My body was practically shutting down and I sensed an accident was in my near future, so when the woman appeared again, I practically begged her to let me use the bathroom, and in front of everyone in the waiting room, I said that I was sick and that if I waited any longer, there would be a 'gros souci'.

She finally caved in and in an exsaparated tone, said she would unlock the toilet and let me use it. Victory for me I suppose! But it was really a bit demeaning, and exhausting, in an already desperate and unpleasant situation considering the circumstances.

Anyway just wanted to share, and to see if anyone else had experienced anything similar? I am not sure if this terrorist toilet-blocking rule has been applied to other public areas but with the already huge lack of accessible toilets in this country, I find it absolutely ridiculous.

I have to go back again next week, this time for a 2-hour meeting at the same time in the morning and I'm not sure I feel like putting on another performance like I did yesterday....perhaps I'll try skipping the coffee this time around and see if that helps a little...
 

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I never saw any toilets at our local office - certainly no signs. Must be hidden away behind the staff quarters.

As to the 'hoops', I found it very straightforward (allowing for the fact that my French is basic).

Compared to the 'Gestapo' in the UK equivalent Jobcentres whose sole purpose in life seems to be to either get you into the first vacancy that appears - or even better- find an excuse to stop your benefits, I've found all the staff here go out of their way to be helpful.

Keep off the coffee & you'll be ok. :):fingerscrossed:
 

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Sorry, but terrorism (esp of the home-grown kind) is a significant threat in France at the moment, and not least in the Paris area. I would suggest you arrive early, have a coffee at a nearby café and use their toilets before your appointment. After all, your best plan is to be prepared.
 

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I never saw any toilets at our local office - certainly no signs. Must be hidden away behind the staff quarters.

As to the 'hoops', I found it very straightforward (allowing for the fact that my French is basic).

Compared to the 'Gestapo' in the UK equivalent Jobcentres whose sole purpose in life seems to be to either get you into the first vacancy that appears - or even better- find an excuse to stop your benefits, I've found all the staff here go out of their way to be helpful.

Keep off the coffee & you'll be ok. :):fingerscrossed:
LOL - you should try being unemployed in Australia - the job search activity has been outsourced to the private sector and believe me they have no interest in getting you into a job, just the dollars paid by the govt for each job seeker (very hard to find a job there once you are unemployed as they really prefer those who are currently working). Plus you have to apply for heaps of jobs and meet other activity test requirements, meet the income (for every dollar over $250 per fortnight the benefit is reduced by 50c in the dollar or 60c in the $ if earned by your partner) and assets test and activity reqts to receive a pitiful payment. Long live the French system :)
 

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Actually, I had much the same thing happen to me. However, I just asked the person at the front desk if there was a toilet I could use, and she unlocked it for me. When I returned to the waiting area, they had apparently changed shift as there was now a guy at the desk.

I then proceeded to wait a LONG time and finally asked the guy if perhaps my councilor was not there that day or something. Turns out that on my return from the bathroom, the guy hadn't thought to call the councilor to say that I was waiting. She thought I was late for my appointment and I thought she had forgotten about me.

Have learned (usually the hard way) just to speak up and ask the relevant question when caught in a "weird" situation.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just a quick update for today's trip, as I'm sure you are all dying to know :).

I prepared my bladder accordingly this morning for the commute to Antony (small coffee and no other liquids), and even took an Alka Seltzer (my mother swears that this helps her from taking so many bathroom trips while traveling).

The tricks seemed to work! But sadly, and maybe predictably, the RER B was blocked at Cite Universitaire, so I ended up arriving at the Pole Emploi right as the meeting was about to finish...

In the end, I spent the hours I was supposed to be at the meeting in public transport, but at least there were no extreme urges to go at any time, fortunately.

And of course, the meeting has been rescheduled for June so I get to try it all again then! At least now I know it's possible, ha.

So considering today's ultimate outcome (several hours wasted in public transport for essentially nothing) I'm not sure if I should call this a victory or failure. I'll go with small victory, I suppose, for the sake of not going completely insane :)...until next time!
 

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Just a quick update for today's trip, as I'm sure you are all dying to know :).

I prepared my bladder accordingly this morning for the commute to Antony (small coffee and no other liquids), and even took an Alka Seltzer (my mother swears that this helps her from taking so many bathroom trips while traveling).

The tricks seemed to work! But sadly, and maybe predictably, the RER B was blocked at Cite Universitaire, so I ended up arriving at the Pole Emploi right as the meeting was about to finish...

In the end, I spent the hours I was supposed to be at the meeting in public transport, but at least there were no extreme urges to go at any time, fortunately.

And of course, the meeting has been rescheduled for June so I get to try it all again then! At least now I know it's possible, ha.

So considering today's ultimate outcome (several hours wasted in public transport for essentially nothing) I'm not sure if I should call this a victory or failure. I'll go with small victory, I suppose, for the sake of not going completely insane :)...until next time!
Ah the good old problème technique. :deadhorse:

I remember it well from my commuting days here.
 
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