Sardines and Metro Culture

One particularly hot day in Paris, the metro trains were absolutely jam packed with people. We were stuffed in like sardines. We could hardly breathe; the air was thin in O2, and thick with humidity, heat, and body odor. I kept coaching myself, “don’t freak out; just breathe slow, steady and shallow; you’ll be off soon.”  Jay was the last person to wedge into our particular wagon and was wondering if he really would fit or not.  He was aware that the doors were about to shut behind him and would brush his buns as they slammed shut. Suddenly he was shoved forward as another man decided he needed on, too, by jumping on backwards, forcefully butt bumping Jay into the throngs of people. Needless to say, Jay was shocked and actually rather amused!

Another very hot and crowded day, Sarah found herself in an awkward spot with a rather large bellied Indian man. As we all crushed in together, she and the Indian man ended up belly/back spooning – his belly in her back! She was arching away from him as best she could while he was sucking it in as best he could. Awkward!

With the sudden stop and starts, Ella found it impossible to ride the metro standing up with two broken arms. As soon as she stepped on the train, she bee-lined for an open chair, which I thought were rare but she nearly always seemed to find. One day she wasn’t so lucky and found herself with nowhere to perch. Her sister, Sarah, wrapped her arms around her and hung onto her for dear life. Thankfully a sweet, old lady gave her seat up for Ella. How weird is that – the old lady giving up her seat for a teenager! Sweet.

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t mess around getting on and off the metro trains. On one such train in Paris, a lady was traveling with her tiny yip-yap dog. You know, the kind that is ultra pampered and usually rides around in a woman’s pocketbook. This one happened to be on a leash, but pampered none-the-less… until, the train stopped! She promptly rushed off the train with the yip-yap dangling by the neck!

For Ben, all trains are a gymnasium! He especially loved to hang from the horizontal top bars as the train was jetting from the station in hopes his body would sway sideways.

Another day in Paris, we leaped onto the metro we needed along with a group of other people. One unfortunate young man apparently dropped his iPod on the floor of the metro station. A ruckus of activity on the platform informed us all on the train of some urgency and a station worker was waving the iPod to catch the attention of the young man now on the train with us. The warning bell was ringing signaling imminent departure and the train doors began to close. Jay, being a good citizen, wedged his body between the closing doors to allow possible retrieval of the iPod. While sacrificing his mid-torso, the station worker and young man hand signaled to each other that the former would leave the iPod at the ticket window while the latter would train back from the next stop to get it. Another harrowing experience in the Kinsinger adventure!


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