Saturday, January 19, 2013

French Internet Ads: The Ironic Edition

Hi. If you are new to this blog, allow me to give you a very warm welcome to Two Beans or Not Two Beans and to the very first blog post of 2013.

(If you aren't new to this blog, welcome back. I do ask that you please bear with me for a few paragraphs here. The funny stuff will eventually appear.)

I felt that if I wanted this blog post to make any ironic sense, I would need to explain to you all my personal back story. So, here it goes:

I am an American citizen, a common fate that falls upon those who so happen to be born in Union City, New Jersey a little over 25 years ago. I didn't grow up in New Jersey. Yea, at the tender age of five years old, my family decided that it would be beneficial to my education to move to the glorious city of Miami, Florida. My education benefited, but a love of Combos, Hershey's chocolate bars and McDonald's combined with Miami's pedestrian unfriendliness certainly had a detrimental effect on my waistline.

High school came along and thanks to my perseverance and hard work, I obtained a scholarship that paid for most of my university education. Not only did I study as a full-time Literature major with a French minor student, I also worked for three unforgettable years in a law office until I was laid-off due to the economic housing crisis of 2008.

Prior to said lay-off, I took a two-week vacation to France in late April/early May that same year. It was a trip of lifetime, one that had been in the making since I took French as a foreign language elective in middle school back in seventh grade and high school. In my inexperienced mind, just being able to visit France would somehow mark me with a sense of accomplishment, the achievement of managing to follow through with a dream.

Little did I know that those two weeks would change me forever. For the first time in my life, quite inexplicably, I felt a sense of being and belonging. I fell absolutely and irrevocably in love with the country. France beckoned me.

I wanted to move there. Permanently.

In 2009, amid shuffling from one hourly-paying temporary job to the next in Miami, I got the chance to work as an English Teaching Assistant for two years in Dijon, France. I thought then that I would be at my happiest to remain in Dijon. Alas, as with most contractual jobs, it didn't last long. I faced returning back to Miami and kissing good-bye my heartbroken starry-eyed hope.

I wasn't too worried about the prospect of finding another job in Miami. After all, it is a large, tourist town that is always in need of highly-skilled, hard-working and intelligent people. Without sounding too pigheaded, I wagered that I easily met the requirements: I'm tri-lingual, I have a (albeit somewhat laughable) college degree, and I have six years of total work experience ranging from secretarial duties to legal knowledge to pedagogic knack.

Those skills weren't good enough with Miami's lagging job market. Almost no companies were offering full-time positions, and the ones that were simply required too much qualifications or expectations of their potential candidates. (Hell, I couldn't even get a job in a crappy, two-rate casino if I wanted.)

Weeks passed. I found myself unemployed for three months. Then four months. Then half a year. Then an entire year had gone by in which I was led on a handful of fruitless wild goose chases searching for any job. To make matters personally direful, I kept reminiscing of "the good ol' days" back in France. Rage seethed deep within my being. Why, oh why, couldn't I have obtained a job that would have let me remain there???

Then, last July, an answer came. I was offered a job to return to France. I would teach in an agricultural high school. After a year and three months of unemployment and feeling that no one in Miami recognized my potential, I accepted the position. And I moved back to France.

TL;DR version: quit being a lazy bum and read. Not every bit of information can get handed to you on a literary concise silver platter.

I've been happily living in Sablé-sur-Sarthe for almost five months now, and I have been gradually getting into the rhythm of my new job and new life, such as knowing when the local supermarket closes (7:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday; it stays open until 8 p.m. on Fridays. Eight. Pee. Emm. Ooh, that's late!).

And living abroad in France means that I will naturally be using French internet, which indicates that any annoying ads that are displayed on various websites will be marketing stuff to the French. Bien sûr.

Yet a few of these ads have certainly struck a chord in me. 13 advertisements, to be exact. While I have gotten used to seeing mini-ads for French McDonald's for something laughably called "Bagel Stories"...

What's more Kosher than a bagel cheeseburger with bacon?

...I'll admit that I couldn't help but feel uncomfortably odd when I saw the slew of ads for the French to apply for an American green card so they could have the opportunity to move and find a job in the United States.

Exhibit A:

You only have 29 days to come inside now, American.

Exhibit B:
"Do you already have your American passport?" Yep. I'm fairly certain I have that safely covered.

Exhibit C:
You only have 10 days left to board your plane back to the U.S., American.

Exhibit D:

"Rapid Special: you can register for the Green Card program to live and work in the USA. DON'TMISSYOURCHANCE." (See? I'm a busy businessman busily pointing at my busy wristwatch. In fact, I'm so busy that I can't even remember to press the space bar between certain words, but who has time to do that? BTW, how do you like my backwards photoshopped Old Glory? Pretty swanky, huh?)

And continuing with the time theme, Exhibit E:

"Time's passing by/running out. Click here to register for the American Green Card Lottery. " It's like running a marathon! And look! The flag is facing the right way this time!

Exhibit F:
Oh, so you don't like ads with the American flag? Fine. Here's one without the red, white and blue theme.

Exhibit G:
Actually, never mind. A green card ad without the Americana theme is pretty lame. Here's your chance to upload your  photo for your "green card" (yes, in quotation marks/inverted commas). By the way, you only have until October 2012 to upload your photo for your "green card."

Exhibit H:
The other airplane ad only gave you ten days to board the plane. We give you 13 days!  THIRTEEN DAYS. Oh emm gee.

 Exhibit I:
And if you don't board a plane, you'll get TWENTY DAYS to register! Do it before it's too late! (And, yeah, ignore the fact that we didn't include an American flag in this ad. Shut up.)

 Exhibit J:
"Are you looking for a job? Win a Green Card to work in the United States!" Approved by happy office workers everywhere! (Gee, and to think that I spent a year and three months unemployed back home. Had I known that all I needed was a green card, I would have applied for one ages ago.)

 Exhibit K:
"Haven't you ever dreamt of celebrating the 4th of July with US all?" (I'll admit that this particular ad wasn't too badly done, but it doesn't even mention the "green card" explicitly.)

Exhibit L:
Oddly enough, this ad was in English. However, unlike the airplane ads in French which gave you ample time,  you only get 23 hours to register. Huh. 

And finally, Exhibit M:

"Opened louse a better future." Yes. Louse. I suspect that this ad meant to say "ouverte pouR" (opened for), but once you drop off the "R" in "pour," the word changes to "louse." Either way, opening a louse for any reason sounds drastically nasty.
 Well, there you have it. I, an American citizen, can apply for a "green card" so I can return to the U.S. and find a job. Or I could stay in France with the job I currently have.

But fear not, my friends. In case neither situation works out for me, I have a potential third option:

"Become a Canadian citizen" It doesn't mention anything about actually moving to and working in Canada, though. Just become a citizen. 

Barb the French Bean