France: Messieurs Fixit

Two types of people can generally feel assured of gaining entry to Charles de Gaulle's closely guarded Elyéee Palace: heads of state and SOS men. SOS operatives also receive the open-door treatment at the home of Premier Georges Pompidou, the American embassy and Princess Grace of Monaco's Parisian apartment. Reason: SOS is the company to which knowledgeable French householders turn when their plumbing goes bad, which is frequently.

French plumbing is infamous, and so are French plumbers (not that their American colleagues are much to boast about either). It is commonplace for a French operative to take days or weeks to...

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