We have all done it. We continue to do it. It is not our fault. We are not to blame.
The rush at the end of the working day brings a desparateness, a desire and need to return home. It brings pleasure and relief. We may be off to a music concert; drinks with a friend, movies or it might be the simple pleasure of returning home for an evening meal with the family.
You take your tired exhausted legs up the hundreds of ancient Parisiean stairs, pull out your Navigo and enter the urine scented metro station. There are others just like you some look like they have gym bags, some shopping and most are plugged in to IPODs or phones and have a book in their hand ready for their journey home.
You watch the clock…5 minutes…2 minutes…finally. As is the custom, you wait for other travellers to get off the metro and you then dive in to get a seat, (there are at least eight stops,) and it is first come, first serve. There is almost no way you will give your seat up for the elderly or the pregnant. It is not out of maliciousness, just sheer exhaustion and a need to forget the working day and re-focus your mind.
The train screeches and starts chugging away to the next metro stop. One never tires of seeing the Eiffel Tower on your travels between work and home and for a single moment, you are reminded about your luck as you travel past the Eiffel Tower.
The next metro stop and people leave and people get on…and then those dreaded words, “Bonsoir Madame Monsieur…” The voice is gritty and earthy, thick and aged. The hoarse quality suggests long hours of smoking and perhaps drinking. It certainly rings in your ears with the words of hardship, turmoil and tragedy. If you are lucky the sound of the IPOD drowns out the deep degradation of loss of pride, individuality and humanity. The IPOD drowns the voice of reality and fear. If you are without an IPOD, you listen intently to the squeeks of the rails and the french conversation next to you. You train your ears to hear other noises so that you can not hear the awful, tragic plea.
Your eyes go blank, you look straight ahead or you close your eyes so you ca avoid eye contact but the closed eyes means your hear the gritty cry, “…restaurant ticket, s’il vous plait!” The stench of the old decaying dying seeps into your skin. The stench touches everyone and you pray and hope that it will never be you walking up the carriage aisle in desperate despair. The reality of tragedy leaves politely at the next stop.
You breathe, you open your eyes, you listen and return to your own reality-thankfully.
You allow yourself to forget.
They too were someone’s son, someone’s daughter.
- Stealing Magic in Paris (americangirlsartclubinparis.wordpress.com)