Its been an interesting week with a new window into what is France.
We have had a problem on our street for the past decade, its been OUR problem for only a year, and its been entertaining in a strange way. It seems that the neighboorhood we moved into is "transitional". It has for the past ten years been a place where one could procure drugs.
The scene is an urban one, there are retail level drug dealers that like our block. They are discreet to a point, but they are always there, from 10 am till 2 am, which means they live on less sleep than I do. The problem is that as the night rolls along, they get more and more inebriated, loud, and often start arguments amongst themselves and their clientele, which is great theater, except when you are trying to sleep or trying to get to your front door. We have all called the police from time to time, and they come and check id's and frisk for contraband, but in France one has the right to drink and to loiter, as long as they are not drunk or holding drugs. So the police can't do much. So we in the hood, formed an association, and put up posters that stated that we are watching the dealers and that we are taking pictures and that the clients photos will end up on our new Facebook page "deal Safari", all as a threat. We never did put up pictures of individuals, although we have them and intended to, but what happened next, was the local paper, SudOuest, got the story, and within 24 hours everyone else had it too. There were film crews from 4 national news outlets, 2 national radio shows, Figaro and LeMonde and tomorrow we will be on the 60 minutes of France, creatively called 66 minutes! Patricia is the "secretary" of our association. Yesterday, we had three camera crews in our home, interviewing her and filming the photos that Oscar had taken. These have all gone National, Oscar thinks he's famous and that he should have been paid. And today I was at a meeting with the chief of police, the Southwest France Drug Brigadeer, and several others from brass to narcs. I was actually introduced as "Mr McBain, whos wife speaks french very well" (I was being too quiet). Plenty of friends have called us and even my barber saw the news.
It seems that the story is of national interest because we are taking the problem into our own hands and we are using social media (Facebook). There have been surveys taken and 76% of the respondants seem to support us, but there is a vocal minority that is complaining that we are "denouncing" innocent people and that we should leave this to the (overburdened) authorities.
Its been a whirlwind of activity, but at least the dealers have stayed awayfor a week, we will see how long this quiet lasts.