Friday, April 22, 2005

Swept Away

Transferring at Concorde the other night, I scuffed along the other late-night riders from the Twelve to the One. A group of gypsy children were among us, two of them similarly clad in jean jackets that boasted the logo of an imaginary football team across the back. Showing off for the girl of the group, who giggled and jogged along beside them, they played subway soccer, substituting the ball with a ratty version of the day’s 20 Minutes.

Hearing them coming, I veered right. One of the boys slammed into my side with his elbow. I rubbed my injured love handle and watched them make their way down the tunnel. Soon, they picked up the newspaper and threw it into the air. Folded and aerodynamic, it slammed into the wall, narrowly missing a man walking just in front of me.

“Pardon!” They shouted. The man shrugged.

A few meters later, we came upon a limping cleaning man, clothed in a bright blue work suit. He scuttled along with his broom and pan, ushering used ticket stubs and candy wrappers away from the sides of the corridor.

As the children approached, one of them broke free of the group and grabbed the man’s broom from his hand. They took off running. The Limping Cleaner shouted, “Oh! La!” and started off after them, albeit slowly and unevenly.

The man who’d narrowly missed having his eye poked out by a flying newspaper and I looked at each other. I let go of my injured love handle; we took off running after the kids. Chased them all the way down the hall and onto the platform of the One. I checked the lighted sign. Sven minutes ‘til the next train—there was still time. We zigged and zagged through the platform, toward the Sortie, up the stairs and through the automatic exit doors. We were soon joined by the Security Guards. The kids ran up the stairs to the outside, and the broom came tumbling down the stairs after them.

The man and I slowed down just before the exit. One of the guards retrieved the broom from the bottom of the steps. The other two dashed out. A few seconds later, the Limping Cleaner caught up to us. He scolded the Security Guards: “You call this security?! Those kids could’ve killed me!” When they didn’t listen, he approached the ticket window, shouting to the woman behind the counter that the security in the metro was insufficient. He might as well quit, he said, it was such a dangerous job.

The man and I looked at each other, breathing heavily. I checked my watch. Two minutes. We jogged back down the stairs and boarded the train, never speaking.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Mathieu said...

T'as peur de rien, toi! :P

10:51 PM, April 22, 2005  
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If it hasn't already become obvious, Emily is a tough customer.

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Good golly, miss Em'ly, that's impressive!

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Leave it to Emily to step up. After this, plus the cell phone incident, those metro miscreants are thinking twice...

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