Train in Vain

Ever-cheerful commuters

As I disembarked I congratulated the train staff for having mastered time travel, then looked anxiously up and down the platform for a team of horses to transport my weighty baggage. A gargantuan effort got me going, and I set off for my next goal: the Metro. Just a few hundred metres and an escalator away, but this short journey gave me ample time to get a sample of Parisian public transport.

The first rule is to push. If you even think about being polite and letting someone go in front of you, you will be trampled. If you stop for a nanosecond to look at a map on the wall, you will find yourself pressed against the sticky tiling like a crushed mosquito. If this happens all you can do is wait for the current surge to pass, then for gravity to slowly peel you away from the wall and deposit you on the ground like a piece of wet tissue.

Assuming you manage to read the signs in time and force your way into a crowd of people going in the right direction, you will encounter another problem. Maybe it’s something in their diet, or perhaps they’re simply too lazy to swallow, but gobbing is a big thing in Paris. The amount of saliva on the floor makes some sort of rubber dinghy the ideal mode of transport inside stations. If carrying an inflatable vessel isn’t convenient, however, a dry-suit and snorkel will suffice, but you’ll be exposed so do be on the lookout for motorised craft.

I forced my way through the crowd, and got to the metro platform. The doors opened onto a hideously overcrowded carriage, and I found it necessary to reduce myself to the width of a pencil to slot myself into the unmoving wall of passengers. I looked down to assess the damage of my spittle voyage from the Eurostar platform, and found that I had remnants of effluvia reaching up to my knees. Making a mental note to buy some waders, I closed my eyes and tried to ignore the fact that I had two or three full bags of shopping lodged inside my lower intestine. At Châtelet, a considerable number of people disembarked, meaning I could expand to human size again and take a seat. Next stop: Accommodation.

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