Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Unleashed on the Eleven

A guest post by dear Chris.

I needed a work permit. Unless you have dealt with French administration, you cannot imagine the dread with which I woke up on Monday morning to begin an ultimately futile two-hour metro extravaganza. This began, appropriately, in a long line at the ticket window in the Belleville station near my apartment.

When I finally got to the front of the line, a frantic and squat middle-aged woman in a shawl debarked, fluttering her arms. Her peroxided hair was unforgivingly wrenched into a ratty. She leapt in front of me, applied her mouth to the hole in the bulletproof glass and began jabbering. Apparently her dog had escaped and run into the station without her. In Paris it is common for people to walk their dogs without leashes, and yet miraculously, this kind of thing seems to happen very rarely.

"Sir, sir, did you see a dog pass through here? I think he went through the turnstiles! What should I do? What should I do?" Since the cashier was ignoring her, I played along, slipped him my bill and asked for a book of tickets. I heard him finally respond to her as I was walking away. "Listen Madame, I don't know anything about a dog. Can't you see I have a line here?" he spat impatiently.

When I got down to the end of the platform for the République-bound 11 line, a very cute sheltie or maybe a miniature collie was introducing itself to my fellow travelers. It tranquilly worked the crowd, wagging its tail, looking knowingly into the passenger's eyes and, I kid you not, gently proffering its paw to "shake." A few
Chinese high school students ignored it, and the dog finally settled down in front of a fat and accomodating man with a bottle. (7:45 AM) By the time the train was pulling into the station the two seemed to be getting along swimmingly. As I was boarding, I saw the dog's owner rushing down the platform with a look of relief in her eyes. "Toby! Toby! Heel, my baby Toby!" she cried out to it. The dog obeyed, even from a great distance.

How comforting, I thought. A heart-warming reunion on this dreary Parisian Monday morning.

I watched through the window as the train pulled out the station. The woman, finally reunited with her darling Toby, began furiously whipping him with what looked to be a piece of knotted rope.


Blogger Buffy said...

French bureaucracy makes me sweat.

I feel your pain.

12:12 AM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Nicolas said...

Chris has got French bureaucracy down to a tee. Except when he goes to the wrong office. But he should be praised for automatically arming himself with a ten-ton dossier every time he sets foot in an offic.

7:43 PM, October 03, 2006  

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