Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watch the closing doors

As a friend recounted her recent horror stories about being on the Paris metro over lunch today, I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement. The metro of course, is no way to judge a personality, and certainly I have had my share of nastiness on the NYC subway, and she on the London tube, but there seems to be an exceptional lack of respect for personal space in the confines of the Paris metro. I chalk it up to outdated cars. They are too small. It is clear that the Parisian population has grown faster than the city planned for allotting money for expanding the current system. In these older model cars the seats that flip up allowing for the option of standing when it gets full was perhaps appropriate for the days of Victorian politesse, but it doesn’t work in today’s world. On a train packed to the gills it almost always someone between 13-25 who determinedly sits while people clamor around them. It drives me insane. On a few occasions I have become the naggy old lady curtly suggesting that they stand up. I can see them roll their eyes at me like when their mom scolds them. It’s become somewhat entertaining now. There seems to be an issue for many people here about how to move onto and into the train car. You don’t stop at the doors if there are people getting in behind you. You move in and across, whether you get off at the next stop or not. This is just a general safety rule that often helps avoid forceful pushing and doors slamming on people. I think that all Parisians should have a two-week training period in NYC learning subway language. NYC is no charm school and can in fact be worse, but somehow there is generally (excepting the 1st time tourists from the middle of the country), a universal understanding of working around this confined and dirty space which will hopefully get us where we are going in good time.

My friend told me about her run in with a pole leaner with enormous hair. Why is it that people think they can lean against the pole thereby disallowing anyone else to really hold it? There is nothing worse than your hand resting against someone’s sweaty back. I have tried firming my grip so my knuckles get in their back a bit, which often gets the message across, but not always. As my friend was being blasted by this perky woman’s voluminous hair she asked her to please move a bit and was met with a high-heel jammed into her foot. Classy. I also don’t think that the cell phone needs to really work on the metro, at least in the cars, maybe the platform is cool, because though the twenty minute commute might be a good time for you to have an argument with your boyfriend, it’s not really something I want to be subjected to for the ride. The Paris metro has its moments. The boards that read the amount of minutes till the next train alleviates a good deal of stress, and some of the newer train cars I have spotted look like a good omen for the future, but until then, please stand up, move in and watch the closing doors.

1 comment:

Ozwald said...

So damn true :D ! I've been thinking for a while about writing myself something about the metro (and the RER, line A ;) ) but I could not have written anything better and more accurate than this post !

By the way, about the pole, let me share an idea I have : you can't imagine how many times I've been dreaming of having studded gloves and actually daring to wear them...would be nice with my suit :-D !