punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

Some more AOL Lore

I used to work with AOL France for a while. They were an oddball cast, to be sure. Nadine Grange, the little butch lesbian biker, ran the show in Lens and ran it well. IMHO, she WAS AOL France. She was almost fired for her... well, to be blunt, loud mouth several times. But in the end, they relented because she did so much for AOL France, including get the comparatively very lax southern European standards up to the American ones.

My favorite story of her was this one time Transpac (our French carrier) was hemming and hawing as they usually did to get a connection fixed to Austria. Global One of France had that connection, and for many days, they stalled. And when Transpac stalled, they suddenly didn't speak English anymore. I fucking hated them for pulling that. Global One actually told me, "They guy with the van has gone on holiday."

"You mean all of Global One in France only has ONE van, and they guy who owns it is on vacation?" I asked.

"Yes. Well, it is the weekend, and you know... who wants the Internet over the weekend? It's nice out."

"Can you call him?"

"No... see, he is in Austria, and you know how the connection to Austria is down, zo... he'll be bach Monday, Tuesday at the ... how you zey... lateest."

It was Thursday. And I heard his accent winding down.

I don't want you to think I am calling the French lazy. They are not lazy. The French are highly educated and very hard working. The best way to explain it is that they are not in any hurry. They are very much the term "Laissez-faire," or "let people do as they choose." Relaxed, often late, and while many people consider this to be rude and arrogant... it's not really like that once you get to know French people.

But Nadine knew what Americans wanted. Fixed. Now. She suddenly burst in on the conference call, and hurled a huge slew of curses at the Transpac tech, in French, telling them that she wasn't going to put up with their bullshit anymore. Her voice was very sudden and loud because the Transpac techs spoke so far from their phone's mouthpiece, they were almost lost in the background static noise of their computer fans. So we usually had to turn up the speakerphones to hear them. Nadine's voice hit our ears with the fist of an angry French God, and I recall everyone rapidly turning down their speakerphones all over the NOC in a panic. But she got it fixed.

AOL France closed last year. It's a pity, because they were some damn talented people. But before they left, they made this goodbye video, which I just found on Youtube after having been private video for almost a year. A fitting tribte to a bunch of characters.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=PHIDJ5f8sGQ
Tags: aol, france, french, work
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