08 April 2012

How friendly are the French?

Another heartwarming story about French young people

This is the third year we've ordered firewood for out fireplace, and the order this year was for 6 cubic meters or stères (about 1-2/3 cords).  It arrived last Wednesday.  Since our prune tree overshadows the driveway, the delivery truck can't back into our yard and must dump the wood on the sidewalk and in the street.  Meaning, that's a hell of a lot of firewood we've got to move quickly to clear the street and sidewalk.  Since it's our second year to get six stères, we knew what we were in for.

The truck drove up and backed into position.  The driver (and owner of the business) stepped out and talked about his options for dumping the wood.  I'll point out in passing that he's a perfectly charming fellow who's a pleasure to talk to (and according to Danièle, quite good looking!).  He and I settled on the obvious solution and he dumped the load.  We settled up and he drove off.  The equivalent of a stack of wood 4ft high x 4ft wide x approx 13ft long, cut in half meter lengths for our fireplace, is a hell of a lot of logs to move.

Danièle and I set to work, first to get the wood out of people's way and  then to stack it.  It took us two long afternoons last year.

We had been working about an hour when two young men we didn't know walked up and asked if they could help.  We said "bien sûr" (certainly).  Turns out they'd walked by a bit earlier and seen two senior citizens toiling away at a very large pile of wood and had decided to see if they couldn't lend a hand!  They set to work with a will and pitched, toted, and stacked wood alongside us.  When we stopped for a break, they kept on.  It sprinkled briefly at one point - didn't break their rhythm.  After an hour and a half, I pointed out that we had already moved most of the wood and that they could leave with our gratitude whenever they wanted to.  They responded they weren't the sort to leave a job undone!  And they stayed with us until the street and sidewalk were clear and we had all the wood stacked for next winter.

We invited them in for a Coke and a chat and learned they were boarding students at the technical high school four blocks away and that since the work-out facility they normally went to was closed, they were pleased to find something physical to do.  Bien sûr, we made an appointment for next year.

This is the second story in the blog about helpful French people; in both cases I've particularly singled out helpful young French people.  (See the post of 10 March 2012 entitled Smiles and feeling welcome in France.)  Young people in France, just like in the States, sometimes get a bad rap.  As is obvious from these stories, there are some lovely, well brought up, good kids here just like in the States - who take after their parents.


  1. I like this story. It's right in line with experiences my wife and I have had in Paris. In fact, we've found young people in France to be better behaved around their elders than where we lived in the US.

    In any event, it gives me hope for the future of humanity. :-)

    1. It left a very warm feeling my my heart and makes me hesitate before grand generalizations about sad state of young people today.

  2. Really enjoyed the post and your sense of humor. Keep it up. - ML, American in Toulouse

  3. Well, if you really want me to... [appreciative smile]