Lisa Nagengast landed safely in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday evening, but by the time she got out of her seat to get off the plane she was in panic. Right after she took her phone off of airplane mode, she discovered her brother, Greg Holeman, whom she was visiting in Nebraska after he underwent back surgery, had left a voicemail.
He said in the message that he was in severe pain, complaining about the incision wound and lost feeling in his left leg. He was all alone and didn’t have enough money for a cab. Although he is an Army veteran, Holeman said, he was unsure if the veteran’s health insurance he had would cover the ambulance ride, so he had to drive himself to the hospital.
Nagengast called straight back, warning him not to drive and asking for the name of his social worker. She wrote it on a napkin and called his social worker, Pam. There was noise in the background as she was disembarking from the plane, but she heard someone pick up on the other line
Nagengast, pressed on time, explained who she was, that her brother needed a ride, and that he had no money for a cab. A voice on the other line answered: “Let me get my manager for you.”
Nagengast told the manager what the situation was, adding, “I need you to help me. If you need me to pay for it, I will. We have to get this done.” There was a driver who could be sent to help her brother, the manager answered. He said he would call her back in 15 minutes.
A man called Zach called her back after several minutes, telling her he was going to take her brother to the hospital but that he needed his name and address. Nagengast was shocked. How could his social worker not have his information? “Don’t you have it in his file?” she asked, dismayed. “You called Jimmy John’s,” Zach answered.
Nagengast then realized she had misdialed and reached the sandwich chain rather than her brother’s social worker. Zach confirmed that she had called the sandwich chain, not Pam, the social worker. Despite this, Zach, whose last name is Hillmer, took Holeman to the hospital. Also a veteran, Hillmer made sure Holeman made it to the hospital quickly.
Thankfully, her brother was all right and only needed his bandage changed and his medication altered. Jason Voss, the manager who answered Nagengast, said it was obvious she had the wrong number. “Somebody needed help,” he added, “and I got on it as quick as I could.”
As strange as some stereotypes are, there are many that are actually pretty accurate. For instance, everyone thinks that the French are stylish and passionate. Oh yeah, and the food is amazing. Those may be true, but there were many facts about the French that we had to double-check to verify if they were real.
You Can’t See Me
Camouflage had been used for centuries by many other countries and empires. However, the modern look of camouflage was first used by the French army in WWI. The French employed artists to create a special tool to cover their equipment.
The word camouflage is a variation of the French word “camoufleur.” This word translates into disguise. After the other forces saw this, they soon adopted using camouflage as well.
Off With Their Head
When you are in history class, and you get the French Revolution, it is inevitable that you will talk about the guillotine. This punishment was used regularly during that period of history.
But the use of it went on a lot longer than that. The last use of the guillotine was in 1977. But in the books, it was a valid form of punishment all the way until 1981.
What Time Is It?
There was a time when a few nations were in charge of most of the globe. France is one of those, and it still holds quite a few territories even to this day. Because of this, the country is one of the countries with the most time zones.
This is true because of all the territories, the country actually has twelve different time zones. They include holdings in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Plus, they have some territories in South America.
Escargot All Day Long
Snails seem to be synonymous with the food of France. It may well be one of the most iconic dishes in this vast culinary tradition. Even though there are many other cultures that eat snails, the French are one of the most well-known.
The French eat about 30K tons of escargot every year. Even more interesting is that only about 1000 of those come from snail farms in France. The rest are imported.
In Every City
The French are very proud of their literary contributions as well as other artists’ contributions to the world. But when we heard there was a Victor Hugo street in every city, we were skeptical.
But it looks like that fact is true. In all major cities, somewhere in their grid, you will find a street named after the very famous French author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
You have to have a passport to get out there and see the world. But every country’s passport is a little different. These differences range from the color of the book to the info on the ID page. The French have a few extra pieces of information.
When you see a French passport, you may see three names as well as their height and eye color. The three name thing is the weirdest for most, though.
What Is This?
Every country has its own unique cuisines, and sometimes this uniqueness leads to dishes that people from other countries think are gross or weird. One of the most classic of these when it comes to French cuisine is the andouillette.
This is a French sausage that is made with intestines. It smells pretty strong, and that is why the French often tell tourists to stay away from this dish. It is an acquired taste.
Lunch for most of us is a nice break in the middle of our day. A way to refuel and shut down so that we can go back and get stuff done. For most of us, though, that break is only one hour long.
In France, the French have a very strict routine when it comes to eating, and that is why the French lunch is two hours long. Companies do this so that their teams are not forced to eat too fast.
We have all seen television shows that show French people kissing each other when they greet each other. This is actually something that happens in many countries. That being said, the French have some pretty specific guidelines.
The number of kisses depends on what part of France you are from. The further you travel towards France’s southern borders, the more kisses. On average, though, you are safe to peck your friend’s cheeks somewhere between one to four times.
France and its people strive to keep everyone equal. This leads to men and women being able to do all the tasks in the house. In fact, this independence makes it abnormal for any person to tell their significant other or even family members what to do.
“Do what you want” is basically the motto of every French household. This creates super independent women and men that are able to execute tasks that are needed in life, like cooking and sewing.
Call the Firemen
First responders in many countries have individual roles. The firemen are called when there is a fire and the police when there is a law broken. But in France, most will probably, no matter the situation, call the firemen,
Not only that, but the French firemen tend to be faster when it comes to arriving. They do have the ability to do first aid and also act as rescue forces.
Don’t Stuff My Croissant
If you have found croissants around France that are stuffed with things, these are made for the tourists. Even though many French love them, the traditional French croissants are simple puff pastry with butter.
There are very few things as delicious as a simple traditional croissant when eaten warm straight from a French bakery. We happen to think you haven’t lived until you have tasted such deliciousness.
Many of us have been taught to get up, brush our teeth and then head down for breakfast. This is just the way we were taught, so when we see the French skip that step, one might think they don’t brush their teeth in the morning.
That is not true; they do, but they wait until after they eat. This actually makes way more sense than the way we have been taught.
Free Toilets Everywhere
Many places in Europe require you to pay to use public toilets. But in Paris, this is not the case. There are many public toilets throughout the city. If you walk past one and see a green light, that means it is unoccupied.
These toilets can be used all day, every day. Just make sure if it is occupied, that when the person leaves, you let the door close before you enter. This way, the toilet can clean itself.
April Fool’s Day is the one day of the year where pranking is not only okay but it is expected. Of course, there are always different traditions depending on the country you are living in. For the French, this might mean sticking a paper fish to your back.
Most think that the tradition of the Poisson d’Avril started in the 1500s. One of the kings during this time changed the calendar, which adjusted when the new year started.
When you think of French cuisine, we are sure one of the pieces you think about is the baguette. After all, the French, as we have said, love their bread. There are tons of baguettes made every day in France.
This large number of loaves are made with the idea they will all be eaten that day; as if baguettes are left, they become as hard as breadsticks. The name literally translates to stick, after all.
It is kind of a standard understanding that the internet age started in the 90s. But guess what? In the ’80s, France actually had an internet-like system that they used for some of the basic tasks we use the net for today.
The system was called Minitel, and it allowed you to pay bills and shop. It was still active until 2012, when it could no longer hold its own against the new internet.
In several other places in the world, when you sit down for lunch at a restaurant, you ask for the menu. But this is the wrong word when it comes to French restaurants. The word menu is like a set meal.
Instead, ask for a carte. This will be more accurate if you are looking to order a non-set group of dishes. Of course, if you are looking for that, these are often less expensive than ordering a la carte.
If you’re an American traveling abroad and get a little homesick, you can bet on one piece of home that you will be able to find just about everywhere. What is it? The good old Golden Arches, of course.
McDonald’s are everywhere, and in Europe, the biggest market for them is in France. There are over 1000 stores peppered throughout the country. So when you want a touch of home, just look for that golden “M” and follow the glow.
Limit the PDA
When you are saying goodbye at the train station, make sure to be careful. There is a law that says that kissing on the railways is illegal. We are sure they don’t enforce this strange law, though.
Why it’s illegal, we don’t know, but it seems that at some point, the French were a little reserved when it came to public displays of affection. That must have been a short time period!
Not From Here
Like snails, there are a few other iconic “French” dishes. This includes both French toast and French fries. But we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these were not created in France. The French just added their touch to dishes from elsewhere.
For French toast, you can thank the Romans. As for the salty fried potato goodness, this dish belongs to France’s neighbor Belgium.
Okay, one more time, we have to correct a serious misunderstanding regarding French cuisine. Croissants are one of those pastries that we all assume the French created. But that too is a falsity.
In fact, the flaky, buttery pastry started in Austria. Of course, the Austrians stuff their pastries with jam or chocolate, and this is where the French version differs. Either version sounds delicious, though, doesn’t it!
Taking the Day Off
There used to be a day when almost every town in most Western countries was silent on Sundays. The shops and businesses of the cities would leave their doors shuttered on Sundays for a day of rest.
The French shop owner, for the most part, still subscribes to this way of thought. That is why on Sundays you will find that a good majority of them take the day off.
Paris is a pretty large city. So you would imagine traffic lights and other things that help ensure that there isn’t as much congestion would be abundant. But one of these tools, the stop sign, is not.
In all of Paris, there was just one stop sign. That was the one and only red hexagonal sign until 2012. Though there are others now, that sign is no longer there.
It may seem strange to us, and it appears that it is a law that is not enforced, but in France, it is against the law to take pictures of the police or their vehicles.
This law, we assume, doesn’t come with much of a punishment as we have all seen people take pics of both. Why this is a law is not known, but it might be so that the law enforcement agents can keep their anonymity.
Four Legs Rule
If you look around the streets of places like Paris, you may see quite a few little gifts left by the four-legged population of the city. The amount you see might give you the idea that there are more dogs than humans in this metropolitan city.
Though it is not a fact that one can prove, it does seem like the French love their little furry friends, and therefore it is very reasonable to assume this.
And the Winner Is…
When it comes to the art world, there are many French artists that have brought a lot to the world. No matter if it was by putting pen to paper or brush to canvas, there is a lot of really great art that has come from the French.
This must be true because when it comes to literature, French authors have won more Nobel Prizes than any other country.
Sending It Now
There was a time when every army had a squadron of messenger pigeons. It was the best and least noticeable way to get messages to and from the front line. But as technology continued evolving, armies the world over retired their pigeons.
All that is except the French army. They still have a squadron that is trained to be used during major disasters where lines of modern communications are down.
I’ll Keep the Change
You know when you go into a store, but you have a twenty, and you just want a candy bar? You expect to get change, but in France, the shops and traders do not have to give you change at all. This seems crazy, right?
But it is true. By law, the customer is required to pay in exact change. If they don’t, the shop doesn’t have to give them change. They usually do, though!
It’s Just Another Roundabout
If you are used to them, roundabouts are pretty easy to maneuver. But there are some countries where they are a rarity, and so when you look at all the roundabouts in France, you might get a little nervous when driving.
The French, you see, have the most roundabouts in the world. When added up, this European country actually has over half of the world’s roundabouts within its borders.
What’s His Name?
Once again, there are a lot of crazy laws that just sound insane but at the same time wholly possible of existing. For instance, the law that prohibits people from naming their pigs, Napoleon.
Though there is no real proof that this is a law on the books, it seems to be one that is well known. And it makes sense. After all, what leader wants to have his name associated with swine?
Denim wasn’t created in France first, but many think that when they started using the process pioneered in Nimes, denim became more durable. The process created sere, which was a thicker fabric.
This is the feel of denim we know associates with the fabric, so we have to thank the French for that! And so too does the famous denim seller Levi Strauss! Until he started using this technique, he had to use tent material for his work trousers.
Okay, so there is a reason why French cuisine is so beloved the world over. It is intricate while being simple too. In fact, it was given UNESCO World Heritage status. That is how important it is.
This also means that one of the big money makers in the world is French cookbooks. In France alone, two new books are published every day. So there is no way that you won’t be able to find one.
Across the globe, there are many slang terms that are used for police. In France, they have quite a few, but one of them is very interesting. Some have been known to call cops “Poulet.” This word translates to chicken.
It doesn’t seem like it would be a good fit for this profession, but the name comes from the fact that the police prefecture was rebuilt on the site of the poultry market.
Nuclear power was the way to go for a few decades. That is why many nations have a lot of plants scattered throughout their territories. Though France is looked at as one of the leaders on climate change, they still are one of the most reliant on the power.
In fact, they are number one in this standing. They have 66 million people roughly, and for those people, the country has 58 reactors.
Sleep is one of the best things for your health. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will not only have problems with focus, but it can have other effects on your health. That is why getting enough good sleep is so very important.
The French clearly get this as they are one of the most well-rested countries in the world. The average French person will get a little under 9 hours of sleep a day.
Straight From the Tap
Many travelers have been warned about drinking water straight from the tap in many countries. This is a standard concern for many, but when in France, you will find that the French drink from the tap a lot.
This is because, for the most part, the French cities are fitted with a good filtration system. So if you are thirsty when visiting, just grab a glass and drink straight from the tap.
I Say “No!”
Ask a French person to do something and listen to their first reaction. Typically they start off with saying ‘non.’ which translates to ‘no.’ This could be why many think they are pretty rude because they always say no.
But the idea behind this is that it is much easier to change your mind when you say no as opposed to saying yes. Plus, they may not be saying no, just that it might not be possible; it’s all about context.
Heating It Up
In some big cities in France, buildings are heated by giant boilers in the basements. This system heats the main common areas of the building, but each apartment or office space has its own electric radiator.
This means the French are able to heat their rooms to their preference. But your bill will reflect that too, so be careful. This is also why when you go over to a French person’s home, you might find it on the chilly side.
It is hard to believe, but for just about three hundred years, the official language of the British royalty was French. This was because of the Norman conquest. So from 1066 all the way to the mid-1300s, the royal court and the King spoke French.
This prolonged use of the language is why there are many French-sounding words that are used in the English language today.
There are crazy laws all over the world. Some don’t make any sense, and others do, but they find that they are severely outdated. In France, one of these is that women had to get permission to wear pants from the authorities.
This law was drafted in the 1800s and was adjusted when bicycles became a thing. Then the law stated this was the only time that women could wear pants without acquiring permission. This law was still in place (not enforced) until 2012.
Taking My Dog to Lunch
There are some countries that are more accommodating to those that travel with a pet. One of the countries is France. You see, the French love their little four-legged friends. So much so that they are welcomed everywhere.
This even includes restaurants. It is not unusual to see several pups having lunch with their humans in the cafes and restaurants throughout France. That is so nice!
Comfort and Color
Like their male counterparts, the women of France are super chic and trendy. But that doesn’t mean they have to use over-the-top pieces of wardrobe to leave their impression. In fact, like men, it is quite the opposite.
French women love to be comfortable and often put together chic looks with comfy clothing. They also like dark colors as they look good in all seasons.
Bread! We Love It!
If you are watching your carbs, then eating in France is going to be challenging. Why? Well, because the French love their bread. Every meal will have bread. This inclusion of some sort of bread is a key part of the cuisine.
The French eat baguettes on their own, with condiments or as sandwiches. If you’re looking for a super popular dish that stars bread, you should try a croque-monsieur!
Stylin’ & Profilin’
France is one of the hotbeds of fashion. Many of us look to the runways of Paris fashion week for what is going to be the acceptable trends for the following year. There is a good reason for this: the men and women of France are super stylish.
The guys know how to dress, and they don’t necessarily need fancy clothes. They can take simple pieces of everyday clothing and make them look good!