When I first moved to France I noticed that we’d always get people leaving a postcard size paper under our apartment doors or mats with a long list emergency?numbers. Which in all honesty were usually post card size ads for locksmith companies (they’d brand their logo on the other side).
I’ve always found it confusing as hell that there’s so many numbers. God forbid I call the firemen and not the hospital. Why wasn’t there an equivalent to 911 like in the US?
Well turns out there is one general emergency number, available since 1997 but most people are still unfamiliar with it (either because they are french and have already mastered the 15, 17, 18 number differences / meanings or just don’t know!)
So why am I going into all this details about emergency numbers?
Picture this, on saturday I made a christmas brunch and had some friends over at around noon. We ate our hearts merry until around 4pm at which time I was ready to go in food coma and try to nap off the calories for the massive christmas dinner I had that same night. So I remember that when my guests left it was around 4pm.
Later upon asking them, they had remembered seeing my neighbor’s door open at noon, because they went knocking on the wrong door, but thought nothing of it.
Stay with me. So I’m leaving my apart at 8pm ( I remember because I was late and should have been at my dinner at 7:30pm!) As I went downstairs, I saw that the door was open to my neighbors apartment, which I thought was weird but I was like “eh, maybe she’s having a christmas party and she’s just left the door open because there’s a lot of people coming up now” or “the cat got out again”.
So off I went to my dinner.
I got back in a bit after midnight – and noticed that my main code downstairs wasn’t needed to go in the apartment. Sometimes this happened in the past where the magnet wasn’t functioning properly on the entrance door. So I thought no “biggy”.
While on the 2nd floor I saw a red spot on the floor – now I’ve seen way too many CSI series so I may be a bit paranoid. So I assumed yes it could be blood, but it was just two drops on the floor, so no major injury, right?
Stepping up the 3rd floor lo and behold my neighbors doors is still open. At midnight.
Now I started to think this was more than just weird. So I stood to myself for a quick two seconds asking myself “Do I just go home or do I go and see if something is wrong?”
I went over and knocked – no answer.
I went and knocked on all my other neighbours?doors – on all the floors – no fucking answer. But then I thought “shit it’s after midnight people are sleeping or they’re not here for christmas”
My version of Home Alone a la Francaise.
So I called my friends from the dinner panicking “which one of the emergency numbers do you call when you think your neighbor may be in trouble?!”
One of my friends (a Lawyer) at the dinner party had told?me to “do not go inside the apartment!”
Ok I can do that.
I’ll just call the cops and wait in the hallway. I mean there was blood and her door has been open for a long time, seems like emergency enough for me.
Called , spoke to someone who basically told me (all this is going down in french by the way), “you have to go in the apartment otherwise we can’t send someone out just for an open door!”
I thought ok well if there is someone there that needs my help – I have to. But I was scared to find a body or something! The operator kept assuring me ?” I’m staying on the line with you, but you have to go in”.
Phone to my ear with one hand and other knocking on the door I announced “allo, il y a quelqu’un?!” No response.
I push the front door further open, stepped into the entrance room which was an open kitchen / dinning room – no one. Big sigh.
Bathroom- no one.
Living room – no one.
Bedroom – door closed. Pushed back door open. no one.
All lights were on.
I found no one – but found myself shaking like a crackhead going through withdrawal as I exited another persons home feeling something was “off”.
This most be how people feel before they discover something scary.
I kept trying to keep her cat from running out – he?kept crying in the hallway.
It took the cops 40 mins to get there, and me 8 hours later to calm down.
The cops didn’t tell me what they thought?it was – they just instructed me to stay in the apartment.
Hope you guys have been having a splendid holiday season. I wish you peace, joy and abundance!
My holiday has been great filled with food, friends and back to back episodes of Dr. House!
Remember – just in case you ever need to call the cops in Paris, use this number: 112
Also if you’re going to rent apartment here – break ins are common in Paris – so please get a security door if you can! ?They cost an arm and a leg – but it has been one of the best investments of my Parisian life.?