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You Can’t Argue with Fruit Thieves

There’s really no winning with these fruit-picking neighbors. Dudes are just totally indignant.

I walked up on this guy taking my figs and there was a wicker basket on the ground by one of the trees. So I took the basket and started walking off. And he got incensed! He can take my fruit but I can’t take his basket?

Here is an English summary for those who don’t know French or stream video. Although dumb-looking facial expressions are sort of an International language.

He tries to explain that he didn’t know who the trees belonged to despite the huge orange building that stands by these trees. Obviously, the basket analogy went over his head.

He also tries to justify his action by saying that he’s been stealing the fruit here for years.

He asked what I expected of him and I explained that I wish people would at least ask for permission before romping through our fruit trees. So he eventually slows down and asks for permission. And I kindly give him back the kilo+ of figs he had collected. He then asks if he can pick more and I say that he can take what’s already picked but if he wants to pick more he should do us a favor by bringing some to us. This too seems to upset him greatly.

He complains that he has no fruit trees at his home and that is why he takes ours. I ask him if he has any furniture I can borrow when he’s not using it. Also, this is apparently not comparable in the man’s mind.

He then marches off. I ask him his name and he says it’s Rodriguez Garcia. Either that’s a pseudonym or he’s actually named after the inventor of the laryngoscope.  Either way, it’s the perfect place to end this story.

Epilogue – I followed him off the property and he went to my neighbor’s vines. Upset that I was following him, he asked me if these fig trees in the distance belonged to me too. I said they don’t belong to me, but they belong to somebody. And that upset him too. I really wish I hadn’t given him any of the fruit back. Such a jerk.

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  1. Graham Says:

    It seems around here that figs and quinces etc. are fair game. We know some growers who feel the same way you do at which point I keep quiet. Yes I am guilty of fig scrumping (an English language term for helping yourself to apples from a tree), although usually on the lanes in the commune where I pay extortionate taxes. All I can say is if I don’t take them they fall on the ground.
    Interesting your thief agreed to become a film star.

  2. mroconnell Says:

    If somebody confronted you, do you think you’d act the same way Rodriguez Garcia acted? Because honestly, that’s sociopathic/amoral.

  3. The Ceci Sipper Says:

    Oh MAN!!! That was just insanely hilarious!!! hahahahaha! You rock for telling him what you did, hahaha borrowing furniture, hahahaha. LOVED IT! (not him taking figs without permission, but the conversation) I am just beside myself right now, LOL!

  4. Hamish Wakes-Miller Says:

    Love the vid Ryan. Two things that struck me.
    1. You were very polite, when you could have just told him to F….off!
    2. Like many French people this guy had the amazing inability to find that small word called SORRY. His arrogance and his argument were staggering.

    As you tried to say it would have been fine if he would have had the courtesy to ask at the ‘BIG OBVIOUS BUILDING over there where we live’, before roaming on someone’s land and stealing fruit.

  5. Graham Says:

    No I wouldn’t take the approach Rodrigues did, I would try a more sheepish style. But to be clear I select trees that grow by the side of public lanes.
    I look forward to the video where you confront a pack of hunters on your land :)

  6. mroconnell Says:

    I only confronted a hunter once, and it was accidental and terrifying. But I was walking in the woods on a non-Wednesday weekday (no hunting except Weds. and weekends) and on my way back home, in the stretch of heavy garrigue that belongs to us, I found myself face to face with one of the Martinez boys from across the hill, a shot gun and an adorable little “hunting” dog that would have trouble finding a turd in a toilet. Thankfully, my dog hulked out and went into crazy razorback frothy-mouthed killer mode at the site of this pudgy puppy and the hunter was concerned for his dog’s safety. While I expected him to be as much of a jerk as his father, the kid was actually very very nice. And we now buy lumber from his dad who is also slightly less jerky now.

  7. Iris Says:

    Just a hint, Ryan: from eptember on, hunting is allowed every day for individual hunters, the wednesday/weekend thing is only for wild boars and groupe hunting….

    The fruit thieve is typical – two categories: the “autochtone” ones, who lived around a long time before you and consider, that it’s their natural right (even if they know, that with the ancient proprietor, they would have risked a “coup de fusil”) and the newcomers (many foreigners, like Graham) for whom a tree, which is not in a fore-garden is “nature” and nature belongs to everybody;-).

    I learned a lot of French curses and cuss words from a very old lady once, when I asked her politely, whether the chestnuts were already falling, seeing her with her basket under my trees…

  8. mroconnell Says:

    I didn’t know that about the hunting being okay everyday past september for small game. GOOD TO KNOW.

  9. Graham Says:

    I’ll add my Facebook comment plus a bit more to this more permanent media

    One thing to appreciate here is that many French regard wildlife (fauna and flora) as a kind of shared resource and the concept of anyone owning it is simply alien to them – hence his dismissive attitude towards you. He will honestly not think he is stealing anything and not regard the wild figs as your property. He would see his furniture differently.

    Private gardens, vines and an “orchard” of fig trees are different and receive the greatest of respect.

    Alternatively perhaps he is a Parisian on holiday :)

  10. vinc Says:

    Although it is not legal, it’s a very old culture for french people to pick up some fruit in private estate since the tree is not “very’ close to the house.
    (for instance, mushroom picking in the forest. All the forest are owned by someone) Of course i’am talking about resonable quantities…
    I don’t want to be arrogant but you don’t leave in the US where everything is considered with a potential value.
    Something else, this tree isn’t your working tool and I guess you havn’t looked after it for ages. (I would understand your reaction if this guy was picking your grappes)
    My parents have a farmer and they never had problem with that.
    Anyway that’s maybe the way of life in France, sorry, nobody is perfect, Even you because posting this video without the agreement of the thieving regarding to the french law it is an offence! ;-)
    Then I am not sure it is an elegant manner to argue with someone while filming him…
    To finish mr Hamish Wakes-Miller french people know how to say “sorry”, but to say it, you have to really feel it. Some american maybe use this word too much and depreciate it!
    I do appologise for my english.
    Best wish for Ovineyards anyway! (and it’s true)

  11. mroconnell Says:

    @vincpub Thank you for taking the time to comment!! :)

    I was under the impression that a person could have security cameras on private property. Shows what I know, huh? :D Also, I thought American Internet servers aren’t really subject to French distribution law.

    The dude was unhappy that I took his fruit basket (so he has some sense of property even pertaining to fruit that isn’t near his house), wouldn’t let me use his furniture, refused to acknowledge that my house actually IS near the tree, and the tree IS a work tool since it produces delicious figs which we use to make meals for guests throughout the summer. Fig and foie gras entier … mmmm. I guess I’m just thinking…if you had to describe his disposition as nice or mean, what would you say? And is it worth making excuses for him?

    Touchée about me being inelegant. Although he was the one who started the argument. I just took his fruit basket. :D

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