We’ve only just started living full-time at our new house but that has not exempted us from encountering a multitude of solicitors at our front door. The first was a roofer who arrived the day after we had signed the closing papers and we, ourselves, were only just looking around our new purchase. He pointed out the plants growing on our roof and showed us a couple of loose tiles at one edge. Like almost all houses here, ours has a ceramic tile roof and once we got a ladder, we quickly remedied the problems he showed us. After him were 2 painters, a plasterer, another roofer, a psychic, and representatives from a religious group. With Bill’s quick “Sorry, we don’t speak French” comment to those last folks, they left with a smile.
One week later the doorbell rang, I opened the door and said the usual “Bonjour” to the smiling, well-dressed couple standing outside. It took me a few seconds to realize that their reply was in English but even less time to comprehend that they were from the same religious organization that Bill had turned away a few days before. With a smile and a well-practiced “No, thank you”, they went on their way saying that perhaps I would be interested the next time.
“Ding-dong” about a week after that and I thought that it was already “the next time”. When we opened the door there were indeed two people standing there but instead of business suits these two men were dressed in firefighter uniforms. After our exchange of greetings, one gentleman explained that they were distributing their annual Firefighters of Carcassonne calendars to area residents. When I asked the price, he said that they were free but added with a big grin “a donation of one euro to a million would be great!”
So what did we find inside? Certainly not photos from a sports magazine’s women’s swimsuit edition nor a male dance review that we’d seen in similar calendars elsewhere, but firefighters doing their job, a rescue helicopter, an airplane spraying fire extinguisher, and a picture of the mayor standing with the city’s whole team of sapeurs pompiers. Another difference we noticed was that the days of the week are presented in a vertical format instead of the horizontal style that we’re used to. Every saint has her/his day shown and very important to us are the school holidays. The city buses run on a different schedule when the kids are on a break so we always need to know what the date is. The last page shows the 2-digit phone numbers to call depending upon the type of emergency situation. We’ll be keeping this handy. Happy New Year!