Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vignette: Paris Metro

I get off the train and start making my way through the labyrinth to the next train.

I enter a long hallway. The only people in it are me and four people near the turn at the far end. They're all wearing the same type of vest: oversized, non-descript, grey. They are conversing with one another and taking up the entire space of the hallway. If you want to pass you must go through them.

I don't find this threatening. I've seen this type of behavior before in the Metro as well as in the Tube and the New York Subway. You've seen it too; a group of younguns hanging out and conversing, oblivious to the fact they're impeding traffic. The only difference here was they were white, older, and included a woman in the group.

As I passed through the group, the eldest male held out a card reader and said something in French. My initial thought was He wants my credit card to donate to his charity. Well that ain't gonna happen so I fell back to my default phrase when someone hits me up for money in this town.

"Pardon, je ne comprende Francaise. Je suis..." (Yes, I used the Spanish word "comprende" and not the French word "comprend".)

"Tickets!" said the woman, a little _too_ loudly.

"Sure, no problem." I reached into my jacket pocket, pulled out my ticket and handed it to the gang leader with the card reader. He swiped it and said what I imagined was "Thank you, citizen. Enjoy your evening."

The woman said, again, a little too loudly, "Thank you. Enjoy your time here."


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