I was surprised and unsure what to do. To get into my building one has to be buzzed in, or have a key, and it was the first time someone knocked on my door without my previously having let them into the building. I’m only on “bonjour” terms with my neighbors, so I was surprised one of them would be knocking.
“Pompiers (firemen)!” a gruff male voice cried from beyond the door.
My fear intensified. Was there a fire? Or some other dangerous activity taking place nearby?
I looked through the peep whole to verify the man was wearing his firefighter uniform, and indeed there was a firefighter outside of my door.
I opened the door, not even bothering to put on pants, when this firefighter explained to me that he was there to sell me a calendar.
“Quoi (what)?” I stood there in disbelief, realizing that I was pantless and there wasn’t any emergency to be had.
“C’est la calendrier des pompiers, vous pouvez l'acheter en donnant autant que vous voulez (It’s the firefighter calendar that we give in exchange for a donation of any amount)."
Now, a new type of stress came over me.
Never having dealt with this type of interaction before, I had no idea how much money would be appropriate to donate. Plus, I’m a poor, starving student and really don’t need a firefighter calendar.
I felt bad just sending him away empty handed, so I got out a 2euro coin. He thanked me, handed me the calendar, and went on his merry way.
And that's how I ended up with a four page calendar featuring all of Troyes' lovely firefighters.
Some of the region's firefighters.
Source: Mairie Creney