Top Ten: Notable Things I’ve Seen on the Metro

I’ve been in Paris for about a week. I’ve been taking the metro for much less. The metro is definitely a wonderful thing- there’s a reason why it’s one of the best inventions in the world, and why it’s toted as one of the best transportation systems in the West. You can basically get ANYWHERE in Paris (and the suburbs) without making more than one train change (usually), and you never have to wait longer than ten minutes for a train (and that’s only at night, trains are only five minutes apart during the day). Of course, the metro comes with its stereotypes. “You’re going to get pickpocketed.” “Keep an eye on your bags.” “Don’t use your expensive electronics past 8 PM on the metro.” “Don’t believe little lost children-they’ve been hired by pickpocketers!” I’m not going to say I’m lucky enough to have avoided these nightmares so far (I mean, I have been, I’ve barely started using the system), because I’m sure something’s going to happen eventually, but even in my short time in Paris, I’ve seen some pretty strange things in the metro… enough to make mental notes, and enough of those mental notes to fill a Top Ten…

10. Intercom Announcement That There’s A Pickpocket In A Specific Car (ligne 3 Galleni around 1 PM)
My Reaction: I was seated in one of the folding seats up against the wall of the car when I heard that announcement, and it said that the pickpocket was in either the fourth or the fifth car, and we were pretty sure we were in the third. Of course, because of where I was on the car itself (seated against a wall), I was pretty safe, but hearing the announcement makes your skin crawl and relieves you at the same time. At least you know that Big Brother RATP is watching out for you… sort of. Moderately unsettling.

9. Guitarists Practicing/Having a Jam Session But NOT Playing for Tips (Saint-Lazare around 10 AM)
My Reaction: Put a tip jar out. You’d make some extra money! Definitely entertaining.

8. Woman “Begging” for Change by Hitting on People As They Passed By (ligne 12 Mairie d’Issy, station: Saint-Lazare around 10 AM)
My Reaction: Thank you for complimenting my rear end and saying that I should give you some money since my backside probably means I get tons of it thrown at me. If I had any money in my pocket, I probably would have actually tossed some at you just for having the balls to say that. Since I don’t, I’m just going to keep my head down and keep moving. Moderately annoying.

7. The Completely Ineffective Beggar (ligne 3 Galleni around 1 PM)
My Reaction: This man, walked on the train, looked at my little group speaking English, pulled a battered paper cup out of the pocket of his sweatpants, brandished it at us for a few seconds without saying a word, then put the cup back in his pocket, and got off the train at the next stop. WTF?

6. Someone Nearly Falling Out of a Moving Train Because The Door Opened Before The Train Stopped (ligne 12 Mairie d’Issy, station: Rennes around 1 PM)
My Reaction: I blame the person driving the metro for hitting the button to open the doors a little too soon. Some of the trains (like this particular train) have handles that you need to use in order to open the doors, and they’re easier to use if you engage them while the train is still moving, then when the train stops, the door will open. If the doors have been signalled to open, that handle is a little harder to move. Thankfully, I had the mad skills to kind of roll off of the train by grabbing a nearby handle, and I didn’t actually fall. Yes, I admit it. I was the one that nearly fell off the train… Smooth move, Exlax.

5. Modeling/Photo Shoot On The Platform (ligne 3 Pont de Levallois station: Réaumur-Sébastopol)
My Reaction: Really? I get that the metro is kept pretty dang clean, but a photo shoot at the metro? Like there aren’t any gorgeous gardens you could go take your pictures at instead… WTF?

4. Dead Pan Beggar Who LIED (ligne 12 Mairie d’Issy, around 10 AM)
My Reaction: I’ve come to find out that these Dead Pan monologues are common. A beggar will get on the train, give you his/her name, age, and say that they need money for food because they’re homeless and are between jobs, will you help them please? This woman said “I promise I’m using the money for food, not cigarettes or drugs or anything like that.” She should have done a better job hiding the three packs of cigarettes in her pockets before she said that… This is why I don’t give you people any money.

3. Dead Pan Change-Begging Monologue With Dog (ligne 3 Galleni around 12:30 PM)
My Reaction: I was a little scared of the guy, because he got on the train right after I did, and shouted his dead pan monologue about how he wanted change to buy some lunch because he’s flat broke after moving to Paris to start a better life. He had a freaking DOG with him, too! I didn’t really buy it since the dog was trained to sit as soon as the man stopped moving, and the monologue was so incredibly rehearsed, and a monologue THAT deadpan is very hard to do. I have some serious respect for people that do these things, since it’s a major blow to your pride if you’re not lying and scamming everyone (which does happen). Borderline scary.

2. Probably Ivre Man Scatting and Performing an Improvised Monologue On The Train (ligne 3 Levallois around 11:30 PM)
My Reaction: I blame the people that were closer to him for laughing and encouraging him. I don’t think they knew him, but still… he kept going and it was freaking me out. It would have been better if he actually knew how to sing or scat properly. Borderline scary, very annoying.

1. Electric Violinist and Accordion Player On The Train Playing for Tips (ligne 2 Nation around 10 PM)
My Reaction: What in the World… I’m just sorry I didn’t have any money in my pocket to give them, because I’m not dumb enough to root around in my purse to get some. Sheila and I got on the train, and exchanged a look like, “where is this glorious music coming from, when did the metro get speakers, OH HOLY CRAP, IT’S LIVE.” Definitely entertaining.

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