Delayed plane back to Charles de Gaulle. A half-hour of fruitless searching for the 351 bus to Nation (thought I’d try something other than the RER train into the city. Should have skipped the adventure).
Chocolat chaud at my corner cafe where they usually are nice. Uh-oh, the scowling summer staff has arrived. My server didn’t acknowledge that she had heard my order, feigned incomprehension at what a carafe d’eau might mean (um, water?), and threw my change down on the table.
Please say you’re just filling in while the nice people are on holiday? (Please?)
Fortunately, the transition has been eased as one of my dear friends (and former writing mentor) Sarah Van Arsdale is in town. We laughed off the bitchy barmaid together, but Sarah couldn’t help wondering, “Sion, just how do you live here? You’re such a smiley, happy person. And no one here seems to smile!”
Funny you should mention that, Sarah. This is at the top of my mind these days.
On the metro later, I thought someone might be joining my crusade. In a sing-songy voice the conductor of the line 2 train invited us to do something different – to turn to our neighbor, say bonjour. Why, we might even smile! he ventured. Why not? It was Bastille Day, we’ve had a day off, what can it hurt to smile?
Yes! I think, looking around. What could it hurt to smile?
No one’s taking the bait, however.
One older gentleman had already had enough as the conductor repeated his plea at the next station.
Fermes ta guele! the man yelled at the conductor. Shut your piehole, in essence.
Now I’m not saying the New York subway is a party. But actually, sometimes it is! (Witness video evidence below).
On a Friday night after a great Mexican meal (Mexican!), I stumbled into the 2nd Avenue subway stop on New York’s Lower East Side. Something was definitely up as the platform was packed to the gills. When the V-train rolled into the station, enthusiastic applause commenced. Lucky me, I had happened onto the last ever V-train before the city discontinued the line.
Revellers dressed in the line’s trademark orange to celebrate the V’s victorious last run. Some pleaded for the city to reconsider. Some just wanted to mark the occasion. All made a ruckus.
I try to imagine a similar scene on the Paris metro. Forgive me, I cannot. A Facebook friend informed me that a metro party did happen on the line 7bis once. To that I say, the 7bis? Like the shortest, most random line in the whole Paris system? Bis, for god’s sake?
But I would take the inferior train line, no complaints. Though I kind of think the police would get involved, somehow break the party up. Imagine a united horde of people suddenly converging on any metro stop in Paris with boom boxes and festive wear, determined to fete the ride from end to end. Perhaps my imagination fails me; I don’t see it.
I happened to be on the 7bis last night, as it crawled its slow, (one-)way up the hill. Yes, this sad little train could use a party. Yes, this city could use more smiles.
Perhaps we should form a Paris Smile Brigade and plan a subway bash? Anyone, anyone?
Actually, for all this talk, I need to go back into hiding (already!). My first deadline for the MFA program is in 2 weeks. No time to plan metro madness – I must get to work!
On a completely different note: Happy Birthday, mom! Love you!