French organization?

Late this morning, there was a knock on my door. I answered it, in my bathrobe, to find two nattily dressed black men on my doorstep; one probably in his 20s, the other probably in his 40s. (Notable that they were black because I don't see too many black people around here; my impression is that it's a mostly white and Latino neighborhood.)

I immediately figured they were probably Jehovah's Witnesses. But the younger one smiled and said, "Hi--we're members of a local French-speaking organization, and we're trying to find French speakers. Does anyone here speak French?"

I spent a moment trying to figure out what the scam was, because the idea seemed so unlikely--going door-to-door on Thanksgiving morning to find people who speak French? But finally I just said, "Nope, sorry, nobody here speaks French," and they smiled and thanked me and moved on.

And I might not have thought anything of it, except that a couple of hours later, there was another knock on my door. I answered it, still in my bathrobe, to find two nattily dressed young men on my doorstep, both probably in their 20s, one black and one, I think, white. I had a presentiment of what was coming; and indeed, one of them said that they were from a French-speaking organization and looking for French speakers.

I told them they were the second people today to come to my door about this, which startled them. Then I asked what it was all about. They said something vague about having self-actualization meetings (they didn't use that phrase, but that's the impression I got) at which the speakers spoke only in French, so they were looking for Francophones to join them. I explained that nobody in my house speaks French, and they moved on.

But now I'm curious. Is there some kind of French equivalent to Scientology or the Landmark Forum or something? TSOR hasn't turned anything up. But maybe it would if I searched in French.

9 Responses to “French organization?”

  1. Heather Shaw

    Huh, about a year and a half ago the same thing happened to us. Well, they only knocked once, but later that day (it was a Saturday) we walked to the Farmer’s Market and saw several more pairs knocking on doors along the way. Now I’m really curious about it again. I hope you post about it if you uncover the mystery.

  2. Aliette de Bodard

    Weird…We’ve got the classic sects in France, like Scientology and Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I’ve never head of a sect where you *have* to speak French. I did a little bit of googling in French, but turned up nothing relevant either.


    They didn’t mention UFOs, did they?

  4. David Moles

    Worst alien spy cover story ever.

  5. Jay Hartman

    This smells bad. “Next time” you could say that you have a good friend who is a French speaker and could they please leave some literature. I don’t buy the story at all…but not sure what the scam/angle is.

    Perhaps trying to look at content of your house that can be seen from front door? (To determine if coming back for a robbery is worthwhile.)

  6. Jed

    Heather: Interesting; that certainly suggests that it’s not a local-to-me phenomenon. I’ll keep my ears out for more info.

    Aliette: I should’ve thought of asking you; thanks for the info, and for Googling in French.

    l’etranger and David: They didn’t actually mention UFOs, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if they had. Though, yeah, they seemed more likely to be aliens than to be (stereotypical) UFOlogists; they didn’t have the wild-eyed intensity that I associate with that kind of thing. They did have the subdued intensity that I associate with door-to-door religious proselytizing, though.

    Jay: Yeah, I should’ve thought of asking them to leave some literature.

    But I doubt they were casing the place for a robbery. There are several higher-profile targets for such things nearby, and from Heather’s description it would have to be a pretty big organization of burglars. And there are lots of less attention-grabbing ways to get as much of a look into my house as they got–e.g., posing as a newspaper sales person would be a lot simpler and cost a lot less and wouldn’t require getting dressed up. And they showed no indication of wanting to come inside.

    I think it’s more likely that it’s either a religious organization or a self-help seminar (or possibly aliens), but that’s just a guess.

    …Okay, so if this were a movie by any particular director or a book by any particular author, who would the mysterious visitors turn out to be?

  7. Renee

    I wasn’t home last Friday, but my husband was. He said that an Indian woman and a white woman (both around 60) came to the door and the white woman started speaking french. He was like HUH?

    Then she started to speak english and asked if anyone in the house spoke french- he said no- THEN HE SAID THAT THEY MENTIONED MY NAME, which is Renee and said that they thought that I spoke French because of my name. My husband just shuts the door on people, so he didn’t get any more info. Identity theft? WTF?

  8. Sophy

    Hi – so . . this happened to me today:

    I work from home and was immersed in this when knock on door came. My dog was barking furiously and I was halfway xpecting the maintenance people for my apartment so after I got my dog put up I opened the door and was confused when I saw a nicely dressed slightly older man and woman standing there. The man said “Do you speak French?” I actually do speak a very small amount but I was so confused by the bizarreness of this situation I said “no.” He thanked me and they left. After they’d gone I was kicking myself for not asking them who they were, etc. I was just kind of in a weird state since I’d been totally concentrating on work and then dealing with the dog and all. My bf followed them when they left and they got in minivan car parked near the front gates of our apartment complex and left — didn’t go to any other apartments. It is so weird!! This site is the only one I’ve found that has anything similar on it. Just curious to know if there is any more on this you’ve discovered?

    • Jed

      Sorry, I still don’t know anything about this. (And sorry your comment got caught in my spam filter.)

      Still curious, though; if anyone does know what all this is about, let me know.


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