Sunday, October 4, 2009

Of Euros and Things

The meeting is interesting. Filled with the heads of our European businesses. Men and women from all over. Articulate, international people all dressed in dark suits and parading before our CEO who waits, like a lion who hasn't been fed enough meat but can smell it sitting right outside his cage.

I notice several things. First, they are all extremely formal. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was because the CEO was there. But this is business in Europe. European business men don't do Dockers. Or jeans.

They do dark suits. Well-tailored. Fitted . . . no full pleated trousers with bunched up shirts. French cuffs. Taped shirts. Flat-front pants. Italian leather shoes with pointed toes. Wired-framed glasses in modern square shapes.

The are comfortable with their English. For some, the vocabulary is complete, and only the accent is harsh. For others, the accent is slight, and smooth, and lulls you to sleep. Unless you are the CEO. Who's still waiting for the first misstep.

They are proud. They talk with confidence, even in adversity, and even when the message isn't positive. They have an arrogance, almost, that is softened by their formality, and their obvious superiority in terms of multilingualism. They think they are better than you, and want you to think they are better than you . . . they just aren't so declasse as to actually say that.

They are cautious. Risk-averse. Change is not their favorite word, and you can see they are visibly uncomfortable when someone discusses moving the dial more than a notch or two. Again, its not a lack of confidence. Just reluctance. Then running joke was that Americans will roll their eyes but say "when would you like it done?" The Europeans hear the same call to change, and say "Why?"

They are male-dominated, without being misogynists. Few of them are women, and those that are - well, clearly lower on the totem pole. They are traditional.

They are understated and stylish, and intellectual and full of conviction. They are industrious, but balanced, and content. Unflappable.

They are Euros.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

3 comments:

Katitude said...

That's a pretty broad brush you're painting with. Be interesting to see them in a different setting, getting all tipsy and letting their hair down.

The Wife said...

Totally broad brush, Kat . . . and it was such a microcosm of the world . . . but for those 50-60 people . . . I was pretty spot on.

Interestingly enough we had a dinner . . . and no one got drunk and let their hair down.

:(

Now if it had been a room full of only Italians and Spaniards it might have been different . . .

Katitude said...

*grins...unless it's the staff Christmas party, no one really lets their hair down at a work function.

Be funny to pick one of them and concoct their 'other' life, like maybe they have a whack of degenerate IIF's and go on an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas.

Oh wait....nevermind....that's me ;-)