Sunday, January 24, 2010

metro diaries - week two

The sky is absolutely dreadful on Monday morning. Why would Monday decide to greet the working world with such horrendous greyness? Transportation this morning was equally dreadful - Following my laziness, I took line 6 instead of my usual morning route of line 5. I was immediately overjoyed to see that my line 5 stop was actually closed due to an 'incident.' The trajectory to Etoile is long enough for me to think it's the end of my commute, but as the train pulls into the line's end, I realize I still have another train and a bus to take. At this point, a strong pain hits my heart as I've not only come to the realization that I'm only half way to work, but that it's only Monday.
Line 1 is full to capacity and gross in all it's glory. The train is also stuck at Etoile for seven minutes because of another 'incident' at Les Sablons. Everyone around me has a look of despair painted across their faces. They're tired, it's not even 9 am, it's Monday and they've been doing this for longer than I have.
A woman runs onto the train, silently feeling victorious for having caught it at the quai and oblivious to the fact she would be standing there for four minutes - she could have walked onto the train. Once she heard the conductor say the train would be idle for a few more minutes, a flustered sigh left her lips, she unwrapped the scarf around her neck and began unzipping her coat. Her zipper was broken and I think she could have cried. Instead, she began fidgeting in the confined space, nudging the people around her and making everyone want to murder her instead of feel sorry for her. I was far away enough not to be bothered by her anxiety attack, but the woman behind her who could not take it anymore, put her hand on her shoulder, swiveled her around and undid the woman's zipper in a single and swift tug. The incident ended with the savior politely asking the zippered woman to relax for the rest of the ride.
Although sometimes I wish I had been a more adventurous child, and I remember begging my parents to take the metro when we would spend summers in Madrid, I think I would have most likely hated or been terrified of public transportation as a child.
This morning on an unusually packed line 6 train, a terrifying woman with brown bucked teeth taunted a sleepy little boy all the way to Denfert. He had a beanie hat pulled over his eyes and the hood of his parka pulled down as far as it would go to block her and the rest of the metro out of sight. The boy was falling asleep and enjoying the last minutes of his morning as the woman poked him, made faces at him and laughed at how mean she was being. The worst part was that the boy's father, who had his hands busy with another sleepy child in his lap, could do nothing to save the poor boy, as the woman did not speak French. The poor kid stood up at Denfert, probably terrified and probably not as sad to have to go to school as he was escaping the horror that was that woman. The lady stayed sitting for a few more stops and the evil smile stayed smeared across her face for the rest of her commute.
An army of stiletto-clad women march off the bus at the Pompidou stop and make their way up Avenue Commandant Riviere determined to get to work. At the fork of Commandant Riviere and the street on which I work, the army splits in two and half go in one building, half in the other. It amuses me to hear the clack clack clack of high-powered high-heels in the morning as the day begins.
This morning, I'm exhausted. I hit the snooze button twice and didn't find a seat on the metro. A woman with a stinky fur collar mistook me for a resting object and jammed her body into my back until Denfert. At which point, the majority of the central part of the train got off, and I found to my surprise, an empty window seat. I took it and slept till Etoile.
I felt like a zombie making my way through the crowds at the station, but made a very wise last-minute decision to take the RER instead of Line 1. I was at La Defense faster than ever and at work on time, which I didn't at all expect to be.
The bus stop in front of the office is not in service this week because they're putting a glass enclosing around it. At around 6:45, my boss and I walked to the next stop and hopped on this first bus that came past. Little did we know, we were on the wrong bus. Nearly 45 minutes later, we realized our surroundings were not at all familiar and decided to make a run for it. Luckily, we weren't thrown super off-route. At Pont de Neuilly, we got off the bus, and parted ways. At Etoile, I walked towards the back to the train to not have to walk a lot at my exit and kind of blocked out everything and everyone by looking out the window. At Pasteur, walking by in a flash, was ... THE MAN IN THE RED SCARF. I felt a little jolt of joy run through my head and when he was out of sight, I turned back in my seat. The girl sitting in front of me was rummaging through her school bag and found a book. As soon as she cracked it open and the cover came into sight, I could have had a heart attack. The book - Nadja by Andre Breton - is the exact description of what I felt. It's the third time I see the man in the red scarf, and this time, it was because I took a wrong turn on the way home.
Tonight, on the way home, when passing the Eiffel Tower, I asked myself what I was doing getting home so late and I made a vow that I would actually start living instead of just working and going home at night. Although work is going well, I find myself slowly moving into a place I don't want to be - Boring. So from the first chance I get, I'll start living my evenings as a working Parisienne!

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