Friday, April 15, 2005

My Missing Arm Beats Your Missing Foot

A small sticker above each section of four seats reminds passengers that they are to relinquish their seat if any passenger really needs that seat.

This is common sense. If an old woman totters onto the train, five people jump out of their seats, in a spontaneous and collective effort to get the woman seated before the train starts moving again, she loses her balance, she breaks her hip, and no one gets to work on time.

The Paris metro, though, is prepared for a number of situations. The list not only details the types of people who require seats, but the order in which those people have priority to those seats, if they should all find themselves aboard the same car during rush hour.

Translated from the RATP online guide to being a good passenger, the sign reads:

In the cars, certain seats are reserved by priority and chronologically to:
- Disabled war veterans
- Blind persons
- Disabled, from work or other reason
- Pregnant women or people accompanied by small children
- Old and/or incompetent people.

So according to the RATP, it's not how diabled you are, but how you were disabled. A man who lost his left foot in World War II has the right to kick a blind man out of his seat. Likewise, the Blind Man gets a seat before the guy who lost all four limbs in a tragic factory incident. A man who accidently cut off his own thumb while chopping up a carrot takes a seat before the big-bellied woman or the woman with a baby on each hip and two on her back. And all of these people get to keep their seats if an old and/or incompetent person climbs on board.

You have to give the RATP credit. They've thought this thing through and are ready for throngs of various incompetent/disabled/blind/pregnant/old people to ride the metro. But they neglect to address the possibility that a person might have two or more of the above handicaps. Does the war veteran still get priority over a blind and pregnant woman?

In any case, I'm a little upset to see that one of the few benefits of growing old--that is, automatic seating--is being down-played by the RATP. I've always looked forward to kicking those young hooligans out of their cooshy seats. I guess I'll just have to stay away from cars packed with higher-priority passengers. The RATP has really helped me on this one, seeing as how only about a third of the stations are handicap-accessible. But hey, at least they try to make up for it--the people on the priority list do get a nice fifty-percent discount.


Anonymous ddj said...

There was a good article in TIME Europe last week about handicapped access in Europe; apparently the French are big laggards. So it looks like your chances of securing a seat remain pretty good for the near future.

Or perhaps the RATP could return to the old system of having a first class car on the metro. Seating for everyone!

4:58 PM, April 15, 2005  
Blogger Nicolas said...

Emily, this is hysterical.

Yeah, the French are a bit behind with regards to handicapped access... but at least the handicapped are rewarded for painfully making it - or ot - up and down stairs with a reduced fare.

7:12 PM, April 15, 2005  
Anonymous thilde said...

Cet article m'a fait sourire. Comment déterminer la priorité d'un handicap? Heureusement, les voyageurs ont en général le bon sens de ne pas réclamer de justificatif. Un jeune homme avec des béquilles trouvera toujours quelqu'un pour lui offrir une place. Pour peu qu'il sache adresser quelques regards désespérés (rire). Ces places prioritaires, pendant ou en dehors des heures de pointe, ont cependant le mérite de rappeler à tous qu'il faut laisser sa place à une personne temporairement ou définitivement handicapée. En général, les gens sont de bonne volonté et laissent leur place, de bon gré ou de mauvais gré sous la contrainte de gens debout qui interviennent pour faire se lever les mal élevés.

3:08 PM, April 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will very easily earn 500..1000... or more dollars a Day. Give us 15 minutes of your time. job burnout

7:00 AM, February 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lire le blog en entier, pretty good

2:38 PM, November 25, 2009  

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