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Ty Korrigan

French experience...

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Part One:

For the amusement and possible interest of my fellow 'forumites'

I present to you the sorry tale of my first experience as an arborist in France.

2002, I decided to move to Brittany to do the Brit thing of buying a hovel, renovating and scratching a living doing whatever came my way.

Actually, I moved for love, of a girl in fact.

For a living, I started a garden maintainance company, mostly holiday homes and very few French.

Things went very well for me, I cut grass the height of my waist, cut oversize hedges from tractor buckets and even had a collaborator to help with hard landscaping.

However, it was trees that bothered me.

I found it difficult to get an arborist to do any work for me.

Those that I found in the expat community te.nded to have... their own agendas... or were just plain 'pikies' and thats not a nice word at all!

The local French tended to assume that because British were involved then the price should be double the going rate.

So I decided to return to the 53rd state of America (U.K) and enroll in a 10 week course at Merrist Wood College.

I shall now post this before I lose it.

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The local French tended to assume that because British were involved then the price should be double the going rate.

.

 

If thats the case im moving to france and starting my own tree surgery firm! :biggrin:

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I'm back.

I don't know how but I passed and now have a chainsaw licence to maim whilst dangling...

I return to Fair France and post several applications to tree and landscape firms around the St Malo region.

Within hours of landing I land my first job strimming dog shite strewn verges for the City council.

THEN, I get a call from a large and prestigious landscape architect who is reading my C.V as we talk.

I have an interview, in French or course.

The boss wants a climber on call. For the time I am not involved in tree work I shall be landscaping. Its all very good with a fair wage, a bonus for 'airtime' and lunch is always on the company if working more than 5km from base.

You start Monday he tells me and I do.

I should have asked to see the equipement, saws and climbing kit.

Sadly I never did nor did I get a chance to inspect the tools before hand.

Well, it was a few days before I got the call to climb.

I hurried to were the arborist kit was kept and was...confused.

I found... a rope, obviously used for towing, frayed, stretched covered in grease, dirt and cut short.

The harness I had seen in old photos from the 70's at Merrist wood.

No useable kit at all. Prussiks, stiff with age and dirt, unbendable!

A complete absence of PPE, in fact in looked like the leavings of a pikies jumble sale.

 

I reported to the works manager and asked for the equivelant of the LOLA records.

A sad shake of the head I was told that all the kit was approved by a respondsible person but he handed me a catalogue and told me to make a list of the kit I needed.

Days later and no kit had arrived so I volunteered to use my own.

An error!

This first job involved the taking down of 2 giant Macrocarpas to make way for a swimming pool.

That morning, I searched for the saws and was told they where already on site waiting.

Strange... and my climbing saw was already on the truck.

We arrived on site.

I changed into my PPE, arranged my climbing kit and looked for the saws.

I was presented with... a Fisher Price red piece of plastic which when tested had no functioning chain brake when eventually coaxed into starting.

No bungie to attach said shite saw either.

The chain was amazingly blunt and when I queried this I was told that the chain was fine and that there was no other and no way of sharpening it.

I refused to climb.

This caused a conference to which I was not invited. This was because I was British and although I speak good French I am automatically classed as WRONG.

I was told to 'cut down' the 2 trees which stood uncomfortably close to the house.

Now, these elderly Marcocarpas were about 1.5/2m in diametre.

I now only had 2 ground saws with bars that prohibited such a task yet I could not make myself believed/understood.

So I tried to start a saw and the starting cord came away in my hand.

Meanwhile...

The decision was made without me to simply pull down the trees using the large exavator on site.

Imagine if you will, 2 Macrocarpas, conjoined branches, ripped to the ground like the worst storm damage possible.

Then, the roots ripped up and the trunks pulled over and all rolled into one huge pile.

Branches twisted, contorted, loaded with tension, trapped under others in the same condition.

Then came the chipper., an elderly Greenmech which being an older model lacked the modern safety bars.

I nearly puked when I saw one of the crew get inside the hopper whilst the machine was running to kick an awkward piece so it would feed into the rollers.

I returned to base shaken and confused thinking that perhaps I had chosed the wrong career.

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I returned to base shaken and confused thinking that perhaps I had chosed the wrong career.

 

You may have your chainsaw license and all the gear but still i'm afraid to say no idea.

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You may have your chainsaw license and all the gear but still i'm afraid to say no idea.

In what way do I have no idea...?

Faced with such odds how could I make any good of the job in hand.

I am not offended by the comment the I have not a clue, I was there and recognise a farce when I see one.

Everything I encountered was contrary to all that I had been taught at college.

I am on a learning curve and have now chosen to become self employed so I don't have to suffer such employers ever again.

By the way...

Pirates comment was in response to the post about the 'going rate'.

 

To add...

In this company, all mechanics from changing the fuel filters of vans to sharpening chainsaws are the respondsibility of the team of mechanics.

Individual employees are not allowed to look after their own machinery other than to fuel it.

That is the French 'Syndicate' (union) way of things.

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Hi, on this site we all try and hold back on slagging people off and unappropriate language. It seems you have an instant problem with the french way of doing things so why not go it alone or try and get on an english team then you can do it your way.. you have to remember that in everyones eyes (including the french) a short course on tree work doesn't mean that you know anything about the world of arborists, you need to think realalisticly and start from the bottom, take some rubbish and work your way up to earn respect from the locals. Just my way of thinking.

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