TR: Dear Jacques,
You ask me about Duluth, now that you will be transferred here to train Northwest pilots in flying the French Airbus, and first of all I must say that I miss Toulouse and all of the good times we had. I like my life in Minnesota, but I must tell you that if you are French, Americans associate you with wine, cheese, and perfume. They forget that Airbus beat out Boeing in airplane sales last year. They boycott French products not realizing that Motel 6 is French-owned and so is Motown Records. But you ask about Duluth. It is to the rest of the U.S. what Norway is to France. Long winters, cold, faraway. They use the word “whatever” here. And “go figure”. People don’t like to discuss politics with people who disagree with them. If you have a passionate opinion, they just say, “whatever” and walk away. From the top of the hill in Duluth, there are magnificent views of the Lake, and they built a high school on top with no windows facing that way. Go figure. People here do not have a sense of fashion so you need not worry about what you wear when you go out. Whatever. There is no smoking here. In fact, they show sex in movies but if the couple were to light cigarettes afterward, people would be shocked. Smoking is allowed here only in bars that do not serve food prepared from a stove —- if they serve microwaved pizza, then you’re okay. And unlike in France, you can’t bring your dog with you to a restaurant. Stores are open on Sundays but you can’t buy alcohol or automobiles.
When you arrive, you will have to choose a health insurance plan, and let me tell you, it’s not simple. It’s easier to set up a corporation than to get health care. Here there are two networks, SMDC and Care North, each with its own hospital located pretty much across the street from each other. You’ll be given a lot of literature about premiums, deductibles, co-pays, restrictions, and exclusions, not like in France where you just go to the doctor. And church is different: you don’t just go to the service, you have to stay around for lunch. Actually, I like red Jell-O though as a Frenchman I cannot admit this openly. It’s easy to find your way around Duluth. The streets are numbered and run parallel to Lake Superior and the avenues run uphill.
Let me also point out that there are 31 pages of lawyers in the Duluth yellow pages. Go figure.
No monokinis on the beach, but a lot of mosquitoes. But it’s a beautiful place, and I love living here, and look forward to seeing you.
Au revoir et bon voyage!
Your friend Pierre
Listen to the FUNNINESS!