I really think everyone should experience riding the RER A or line 1 during the morning rush. It is impressive to see a human sardine tin stuffed full of people in suits. Now with winter just around the corner, I find it much more amusing now that the sardines are wrapped from head to toe in scarves, jackets, mittens, and hats. Seems a bit like torture, right?
I do believe that over time, as awful as this situation may sound and actually is, it becomes more entertaining and quite humorous. There is no point to get frustrated every time the metro decides to come to a halt because the matter-of-fact is it is going to happen regardless. Clearly being stuffed being a over-perfumed woman just short enough to where her hair is up your nose and a large, heavy breathing business man simultaneously checking his BlackBerry and wiping the sweat off his forehead is not appealing in any circumstance let alone the one where you are stopped in the middle of your route on an over packed train car. However, the story that I am about to share makes these situations doable. Because even though this is rare occasion, you have to laugh at the efficiency of RATP.
It was a normal day. I was rushing to work, as usual, because no matter how much I try to prepare I still manage to find various things to pull me away from getting ready in the morning. I scurried to the RER and found the usually mass of people. Like cows being herded to their unfortunate demise, me and the other disgruntled suit filed into the RER. This was one of those times you get on and think it is so crowded that the RATP employee in the neon vest is going to rip you off the train moments before the doors shut. But no, quite the opposite happens today. Someone manages to lunge into the group and squeeze their body between mine and the doors. Pleasant. The next stop goes routinely until the doors attempt to close 3 times with no success. After much patience (3 minutes can feel like hours when in the sultry atmosphere of the RER), the conductor announces something along the lines of, “Les portes ne seront pas fermées. Il ya un problème. Tout le monde doit de sortir du RER. ” (The doors will not close. There is a problem. Everyone needs to exit the RER)
I had to collect my thoughts over the loud roar of dissatisfaction through moans and grunts. Because I pressed against the opposite door of the one that we were supposed to exit out of, I was going to be one of the last to be able to get off. To me, this would work in my favour because then I would be at the front of the line for people waiting to get on. However, when the last few people were about to exit (myself included), the buzz rang out indicating the doors were going to close. I didn’t think they were actually going to close but when they did, I thought this was just another malfunction and that they would re-open so I didn’t worry much. But they never re-opened. The small group of people left standing in the RER and I all looked at each other with confused faces as the train began to move. The angry herd outside the train laughed and waved thinking we were heading to who-knows-where. Although part of me was scared this was going to be another Indiana Jones episode, I found relief I wasn’t in it alone this time. I sat down happy that this was one of the first times I was able to grab a seat on my morning commute. For about 5 minutes none of us knew where we were going but were more than content to have left the chaos. Soon we arrived at the next stop and to my surprise, the journey continues like normal. The whole doors not shutting thing may have just been a way for the conductor to clear out his over crowded train. Who knows? There is rarely ever a time a decision made in France makes sense to me.
All I know is—I got a VIP ride to work. And that makes me smile.