Broyer, Pilon + Mousse au Chocolat aux Epices - a spicy dessert to celebrate this word journal's birthday
"Donner le meilleur de soi-même" + urban winemakers Fabienne & Lukas Vollmy in Marseille's historic Panier

Eboueurs or imposters? Door-to-door calendar sales: attention aux arnaques!

Poubelle garbage bin can vine climbing France
Help edit today's post by contributing corrections--in French or in English, in the comments box. Merci beaucoup!

un éboueur

    : garbage collector, bin man

Audio File 

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read this sentence:

Un éboueur aussi connu comme agent de propreté urbaine ou plus familièrement comme ripeur (pour ceux à l'arrière de la benne), vidangeur (québécisme) ou poubellier, poubelleur, poubelliste (de poubelle, le récipient destiné à recevoir les déchets) est une personne employée par une collectivité territoriale ou une entreprise pour collecter les déchets, voire les convoyer jusqu'à leur point de retraitement (décharge, incinérateur, usine de recyclage). -Wikipedia

A garbage collector also known as an urban cleaning agent or more familiarly as a ripper (for those at the back of the giant bin), a vacuum cleaner (Québécois) or a dump trucker, a rubbist, a Poubinist (a garbage can, a receptacle intended to receive garbage) is a person employed by a local authority or a company to collect the waste or even convey it to its reprocessing point (landfill, incinerator, recycling plant). (--thanks, google, for the colorful translation)


by Kristi Espinasse

The other day Smokey was taking his nap downstairs and I was taking mine à l'étage when the buzzer rang.

It must be the facteur, I thought, hurrying downstairs in my chaussettes. No time to put on shoes, or the mailman (whoops! mail carrier because écriture inclusive) might move on. Hurrying across the front yard in my socks--aïe aïe aïe--stepping on a shards of misplaced gravel strewn across the tiled path, I noticed a group  huddled together on the other side of our portillon.

Bonjour! I said.

Nous sommes les éboueurs. On vous propose notre calendrier....

Familiar with the yearly calendar sales custom, I didn't hesitate to smile and answer back. Oui, bien sûr!

Ah, zut, I said, realizing I probably didn't have enough cash on hand. Je reviens! With that I hurried back--aïe aïe aïe--to the house, to scavenge through my husband's trusty sacoche. Dear old Mr Sacks coughed up exactly 10 euros in change. This seemed an acceptable contribution to our local clean team--this and un grand merci!

Hurrying back out--aïe-aïe-aïe--over the gravel and up the path, I stood on my sock-toes to  hand the cash over the gate--and that's when I remembered to say thanks for all les éboueurs do to keep our neighborhood clean. Only then I noticed that half of the men had taken off (I guessed, to present calendars next door) and only two remained. My only thought at that point was, you should have said thank you before you went inside! Now the others won't hear of your appreciation.

And then I was going to go and tell you, the reader, about the big lesson I learned: to always say thanks right away... before it's too late!

....But then I went to write today's post and, in researching about calendar sales and "les éboueurs" I found several warnings on the internet! Cities like Paris and Lyon--and the near-to-us Ollioules, have forbidden calendar sales by les éboueurs...because of the scam involved.  It turns out that a lot of éboueur imposters have been out knocking on doors and collecting!

It makes me think back to few days ago, to the grinning group standing beyond our front gate, wearing their fluorescent yellow éboueurs vestes...and to the three guys who took off. And it makes me wonder if I've been had, or arnaqué!

I'm looking at the calendar they handed me and it looks a little suspect now. For example, when the firemen sell their calendars, you see photos of fires, rescue operations, etc. But I notice the garbage collector calendar is full of kittens (Octobre) and puppies (Août)and horses (Décembre) and goats (février) and baby ducks! (Mai). Where is the garbage? Shouldn't there be pictures of garbage?!

Kitten calendar french

Flipping back to Janvier (no baby animals, here we have a chalet or ski lodge and still no garbage!) I see a message: "Les Employés du Tri Sélectif vous présent leurs Meilleurs Voeux pour L'Année 2018...." ("The employes of the Garbage Collection and Waste Recirculation wish you a Happy 2018.")

Dear old Mr. Sacks who coughed up those 10 euros. Does he look like he cares who got the money? Monsieur Sacoche (as my mother-in-law calls him) is 140 years old in dog years... and has 9 lives, like a cat (don't worry, he did not melt!).

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!