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metro musings: on the 14.


Yesterday, heading home from work where my kids, after heavy consideration over grenadine and Petit Ecolier chocolate-plated biscuits, disclosed my age. To me. According to them, I am six and a half years old. I think it might just be the "half" that's really showing my age to them. 

Not wanting their little brains to short-circuit over my true age (I'm not even sure they can count all the way up there), I'm just going to go with it and allow them to think that I am twenty-five and a half years younger than I am. Why not? Being six was awesome. By that age, I had Jem and all of the Hologram dolls, eventually working my way up to the Misfits which my mother decided was more for seven years old girls.

Hopping off the 7 on my ride home from work, I connected to one of my favorite lines, the 14: a line that slashes right through Paris like a bat out of hell, and secured myself a seat despite it being rush hour. At Châtelet, a cumbersome older man boarded. Like my students, I'm terrible at guessing people's age, so I'm going to say he was in his late fifties. Before embarking on the 10 minute underground stretch to Gare de Lyon, he spotted the empty seat in front of me and staked his claims on it. As he approached, I couldn't help notice his physique: vast and fleshy where the shape of his bulbous lower abdomen was showcased through his faded and tight dungarees. Fine. 

The jolt of the train as it pulled out of the station forced him to lose his balance. And that's when he fell onto me. Like, on to me. OSeriously, why couldn't Jean Dujardin double who boarded the train after been the one to fall on me?

As the man was falling on me, my feline instincts ricocheted my forearms up to press against my chest with my palms facing him like little paws, and my neck swiftly twisted to my left facing the window, wanting to avoid any facial contact. He clumsily tried to get himself up and off of me, using the metal handle bars of my seat to pull him up, and with a quick breeze of his breath on my cheek was when I learned that he had had a few beers and was in desperate need of a root canal.

I helped him up, pushing with my own body weight while illustrating my discomfort with light groans. "Jean" as well as other passengers looked on with intrigue at the wackiness of the situation, and once my "my guy" was safely back in his seat, the remainder of the ride was spent unspoken. He didn't excuse himself which would then lead to my forced but obligatory "no it's okay" or rather, in French, "c'est pas grave."" Nothing. We sat in silence, occasionally making uncomfortable eye contact through the black reflection of the window as we whizzed through the suctioning tunnel. Gare de Lyon couldn't have come any faster but when it did, I was pleased to let myself off, commencing the third and final leg of my commute.

Yesterday was certainly not your garden-variety of commutes, even here in Paris where I've certainly seen worse. But it sure beat the homeless man at Les Halles last week who spit in my direction, obliging me to dodge his grey phlegm glob by leaping mid-air. 

I know I've mused on this before, but really, I don't remember the New York City subway keeping me guessing as much, is it the Paris metro that is crazier than most public transportation or am I just more aware here? 

18 comments:

  1. You seem to have such bad luck on trains Ella - you poor thing.
    And why no apology? How rude!

    These days the NYC subway smells a whole lot worse - perhaps it always reeked and that I am really bad at choosing train carriages lately!

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    1. I think something always happens because I'm always on the train therefor my chances are heightened! At least that's my theory...who knows. :)

      I hate when I see rats walking through the subway gutter juice on the tracks. I used to see it all the time at the Canal Street station. Yeah, the subway is pretty gross too!

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  2. Gross. I always fear that someone might fall on me and blowout my knee. I'm not sure why I think that.. it's super weird. One time a homeless man spit on me in Times Square as I walked home with heavy grocery bags. Wasn't it enough that I regularly had to walk through Times Sq but someone had to spit on me?!

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    1. Oh god, you had to walk through Times Square every day? Intense.

      I have weird protection issues with my knees too. Did anyone in your family have the ACL surgery? We have poor knees in our family and everyone had this done, that's where my fear comes from. My mom was bedridden for almost a year going to physical therapy 4 times a week because she blew her knee out.

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  3. man...three different lines to get home? that's killer.

    never had anyone fall on me...stomping all over my toes, yes. chewing gum in my ear, yes. eating doritos right beside me ,yes.

    bon journee...I'm off to Punta Cana...!

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    1. Bon voyage, Debs!:)

      Have a cocktail or two for me at the beach, will you?:)

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    2. Deb! Thank you so much for the email with your fun wedding gossip! What a story!!!! And have a lovely vacation! I'm so jealous. I could use a week of beach time myself. Enjoy every second of it. Woo hoo!!!

      Hahaha chewing gum or talking on the cell phone in your ear is the worst. Some people, geez...

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  4. Hi Lisa! I am truly glad to have found your blog! (I know blablabla) but it is so true! Im so excited, I cannot wait to take the time to read all about your experience in my city! Paris Paris... It can be really intense right?! I hated the metro, hated it so much. And still dnt like it... 3 lines to get home is harsh ... Really looking forward to reading you more (so I follow :)) xx If you have time pass by - travels of a lil frenchy in Australia! xx
    www.eminhapinto.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Emma! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Bienvenue! The 3 line commute isn't too bad as each train I'm on for only 3 stops. It a total of 24 minutes. Thanks to the blessed 14!

      I'll check out your blog once things calm down over here. Paris Fashion Week and my mom's visit is overlapping! I'm already wiped out just thinking about it!

      Thank you again, Emma!

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  5. Yuck.

    "Is it the Paris metro that is crazier than most public transportation or am I just more aware here?"

    Remember my cantaloupe guy anecdote from the NY subway?

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    1. AHHHHHHH So, so, so, gross!! But rather clever....who would have thought to use a cantaloupe in such a creative way?! People spend thousands of dollars of replications of such things (read: guys and dolls, haha), he just saved himself a bundle! Sorry you had to witness his craftiness. : P

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  6. Somehow I forgot the whole story of a guy falling on you as soon as I read about the homeless man who spit at you last week.
    Holy mother!
    Sometimes Paris loses all its 'charme' to me in an instant...this has been one of those times.
    :(

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    1. Thanks to my quick instincts I leaped up just in the nick of time, otherwise I'd have goo on my shoes or worse, ankles. It was pretty gross.

      I love Paris but sometimes this town is just down right nastified!

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  7. Eeeewwww, c'est grave, c'est tres grave!

    One day a couple of winters ago, due to the snow and Scotrail not having been particularly on the ball, our usual 6 carriage train in from the suburbs was down to 3, so as I live at the last stop before the city centre, we literally had to cram ourselves into any available teeny, tiny space (especially as we already knew the next one was cancelled!) The doors closed and we went... nowhere. For 20 minutes we went nowhere, but the door opening thingy had been turned off in a 'just in case we might go' kind of a way. It was getting rather hot and steamy in there just as a small boy on his way to school announced 'I think I'm going to be sick'. And do you know what? There was actually more space on that train than we thought, as we all rapidly tried to get out of the potential firing line ;o)

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    1. C'est tres grave, right? Eewwwwwww!!

      I would have freaked being confined for that long! I'm not claustrophobic but when something like this happens, I have to work very hard to push out thoughts of being stuck on top of people for an indefinite amount of time. I'm getting warm just thinking about it! Oh gross. Did the boy vomit? Hahaha that just adds to it! You poor thing.

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  8. Your post made me cringe!! Why didn't he excuse himself?! He was probably mortified. Or maybe not. Who knows with these people sometimes.

    Lastly - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE TICKETS!!! I'm so psyched to go, and will be taking Raphael who's in Paris this weekend as my date. He's quite excited to. I shall report back!

    x Milsters

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

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    1. Hahaha I don't know why he didn't excuse himself, I guess I didn't really care, it was just something I noticed. The guy was heavy and getting him off me was just laborious!! I don't wish this on anyone in the Paris metro!

      Did you go to the show? I hope you did, despite the weather, and had a good time. I think you're in need of one. : )

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  9. Your assumption of my age made my year! I think you're awesome at it.
    And 6 1/2!!! That's incredible! My nieces think I'm 23 and I thought that was a coup, but six, you must use some incredible face creams! x

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