(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

not sure about why ...


One morning this week as I returned from an outing, I pulled up to my house and saw la Poste fellow parking his bike outside my door and knocking. I smiled and nodded from the car, getting out. I was expecting he had a package or something I had to sign for.

He asked me if I would like to buy a calendar. He reached into one of the hanging side-rucksacks that usually contain the mail and pulled out a stack of calenders.

"Vous preferez les chiens? les chats? les fleurs?", he inquired.

How much?, I asked. "C'etais votre choix" ... (it is your choice) ...

So now I was flummoxed. Calenders for a donation?! and why?

I asked him if the money was for the village. It took a couple of tries before he understood. No, he said, for me!

I walked back to the car to get my purse. The calendars were clearly printed by the post (they are marked as such). They are more than calendars, they are hardbound with maps and almanac information, emergency phone numbers for France and the Dordogne, post codes and various other stuff.

I offered him 5 euros and he smiled and thanked me. This is my selection.

I'm still baffled. Obviously I missed something ... fundraising for postmen?

anyone?

23 comments:

Rigsby said...

you can expect a similar visit from the fire brigade and perhaps the refuse collectors too. You receive your "gift" calendars from them all in exchange for your donation towards their Christmas tip for all their hard work during the year. I hope you have left room for multiple calendars on your wall :-)

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

egads! someone knew ! thanks! have I offended him with my pittance or did I overreach the mark?! pray tell!

Mrs C said...

5 euros is average, I think. They know that the "pompiers" and the "ébouers" will be coming around too.

Building custodians ("gardiens") expect a little something too. And teachers certainly don't say no to a little mark of appreciation either. But your "postier" sure is early.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

well, thanks to you as well mrs c ... since I've only been here about 3 months, I guess even if it is a bit short I'll be made allowance for! now that I know I've a gaggle to recognize I'll have to be sure to be prepared.

Our Juicy Life said...

well I can't wait for my carrier to come with calendars. I'll keep you posted...maybe they won't bother coming this far out!

Randal Graves said...

Les fonctionnaires de l'état begging for handouts? Typical and lazy! Sorry, possessed by an American for a moment.

I wonder if they still do the drink around Xmas time. Let us know if that's the case!

Mrs C said...

and it isn't 'ébouers', it's 'éboueurs'. I think. Damn it. I can't remember how it's spelled. bother.

Also, if I may be so bold with a French spelling thing. I wouldn't mention it, but I've seen it a couple of times already and I saw that Ksam pulled off making a correction in another post. Ahem.

"C'était" never has an 's' at the end. Ce is equivalent to Il, so the proper ending is a 't'.

I think that for only three months in the French countryside, your French is pretty damn good.

Netflix. Don't a wish (though honestly, have been away from N. America too long to have ever appreciated it). Though Canal+ might have something with their 'télé en demande'.

Kiss.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

merci mme. c ... it takes a village to teach me le francais... and I'm always getting the esses and the tees mixed up. at least when one is speaking, one can can get away with it, non?

my French IS coming along, but I have a long way to go.

RG - the drink? who? and where can I get it? is it free? or am I supposed to give it? details, please.

chicamericaine said...

I had to smile when I saw this post. I moved to France eleven years ago (nov. 1). A few weeks into my séjour a fireman came to my door -- shiny helmet and everything. My 3 sentences of French didn't get me far, and he spoke no English at all. He kept pointing to a calendar. I thought maybe it was time for an annual fire safety check. But no, he didn't seem to want to come in and check the apartment. Finally, I told him that my husband spoke French, so he said that he would come back later. I had my husband give him 50 FF for his trouble. When the postman and then the streetsweeper came to the door, I at least understood what the gig was.

The pompier has already been here this year, so we have our fire calendar (sadly not beefcake). It was my husband who answered the door, and he was worried that he hadn't given him enough (€5). He said that the pompier noted everything in a log. Hopefully that doesn't somehow relate to the response time if we ever have a fire! I always feel a bit more generous toward the postman and the streetsweeper because I see both of them regularly.

The things they don't tell you when you move to France!

Karen in Paris

Ksam said...

Man, I am glad I live in Paris in an un-numbered apartment and that I won't have to deal with these people anymore. That is just something I've never gotten used to. I just don't understand why they feel they deserve a tip for doing their JOB. Though I never dared turned down the firemen...Not exactly the folks you want on your bad side, lol!

PS. I also think your French is coming along extremely well for the short amount of time you've been here. And Mrs C, feel free to correct my French any day!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I learned a great phrase from a Parisian friend who thought that mid-November was too early for eboueurs to be stopping by her apartment for their end-of-year bonus 'etrennes' (sometimes it's faux eboueurs, she explained): she says "Je ne peux pas ouvrir pour vous."

Simple. Sweet. Direct.

I like it!

Stacey said...

I love the custom, and that you get a calendar for it. Around here we just have to give an envelope of money. No calendar. Bah!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

chic- thanks for sharing that! I feel a little less silly! Eleven years eh? glad to hear that too...

ksam- thanks for the encouragement. I must say I don't mind the custom, it seems like one of those gentilesse things that have gone by the wayside in the states.

polly-vous~ well if they act like used car salesmen, it is good to know a technique!

stacey - I know! fun, huh?!

Ksam said...

How is it "gentillesse" though? That's the part I don't understand. They're all just doing their job, what they're paid to do - why do they deserve a bonus and no one else? It'd be like if I went around to all of my customers and asked them for a cash handout, just because.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

ksam-for me it is because their jobs affect my quality of life daily, and even can affect my safety (firefighter). It is not like a clerk in a store I may or may not go to, or an office worker somewhere. It is a civil service they provide ... rain or shine. And you always have the choice to say no thanks.

So it is like in the states when you might give the postman or the hairdresser or the paperboy or the school teacher a little bonus at the end of the year because what they do for you affects you more personally, make life a little better. It isn't like they are knocking down the big ducats or something! lol

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

AND they offer a little something in return. No harm, no foul!

chicamericaine said...

NJNRR, I'm with you. I like this tradition because it underscores the sense of community I feel here that I've never experienced anywhere else. When she was little my daughter would spend at least 10 minutes with the postman deciding which calendar to take (dogs, cats, horses . . .). And he would always let her take more than one.

BTW, the calendars make fun "souvenirs" to send back home. I always send them to my mom and elderly aunts -- they love them. The calendars list saints for every day, so you can appropriately greet your friends on their saint namedays (assuming they have catholic-approved names of course ;-)

With the streetsweepers, it seems you do have to be aware of frauds (at least here in Paris). One year, a member of the local park drinking club came to the door posing as one. When I called him on it, he smiled and shrugged like it was worth a try. Just another facet of community life in my quartier.

It's funny how quickly these quirky facets of life here become so natural and comforting. From all I've read, you've made an amazing adjustment to life in France.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

Chica - Exactement! it is all part of the experience. I'm always trying to free myself of my somewhat limited, jaded American viewpoint on the new flow of life I'm learning. There are far more subtleties here that are worthy of adaptation. The fabric of the community is closely knit and interdependent. Kindness abounds. Unfamiliar at first, but ever so reassuring.

And thank you as well for your kind words. Coming from someone who has obviously found her niche, it is so very good to hear!

Mrs C said...

Ksam, your French is probably more methodical than my own. I learned it "on the pillow" as the French expression goes.

Personally, I always feel weird when these blokes come by for the calendars. I like it, but I'm not one to have cash on me and though they do take checks, it's just a weird feeling to write one out for five years and I usually get all embarrassed generous and write one out for ten. Because a check for five euros seems silly. Bother.

Mrs C said...

five EUROS, not years. bother.

I work in a law firm. Be very afraid of my proofreading skillz.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

lol @ Mrs C ... poor you!

Mrs C said...

Dude. But believe me. Bankers are WORSE!

Anonymous said...

I love these comments. I will have a few 5€ notes ready! We don't have a rubbish man so that's 5€ saved :)