Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Paris Journal: Un vieux chien découvre de nouvelles astuces sur le métro

An old dog learns new tricks on the metro

By Moristotle

The Paris metro proved instructive as well as marvelously handy for getting around the city.
    The earliest trick I learned – thank goodness! – was that I could use the time on a metro car (or a bus) to make entries into my trip diary, while impressions were fresh, and before I forgot what I had just seen, heard, or thought. That way, I could avoid embarrassing things like never getting around to responding to my reminder to “write entries for Tuesday & Wednesday.”
    Writing in my diary while traveling even served another, urgent purpose – the day we went to Auvers-sur-Oise:

We just boarded a returning LOCAL train, at about 4:40 p.m. I had found the station toilet locked and hoped to relieve my bowels once we boarded. However, the train has no toilets! Well, maybe continuing today’s diary entry will take my mind off my discomfort....
    We just changed trains for Gare du Nord, at Pontoise, the third stop from Auvers-sur-Oise. Too little time to find a toilet, and no toilets on this train either, apparently – I’m not walking its length to check, the way I did the first train....
    We may have half an hour to go before Gare du Nord, and I have had more than one powerful bowel “contraction”....
    Only five more stops, maybe less than 15 minutes!
The second trick I learned – its lesson occurring on about June 22, after three weeks of not using the walking cane I had dutifully brought on the trip – was to use the cane!
    We were nearing our stop on the metro, so, as usual, I stood up to make ready to get off. But on this occasion the driver seems to have applied the brakes much harder or more quickly than usual and I was sent spinning, saved from being catapulted against the nearest obstacle – which included other passengers – only by my already having grabbed the vertical bar between floor and ceiling. But it was my “bad” knee I spun on, and it soon began to hurt rather painfully.
    The next day, and all the days following, including frequently now that I am home in Mebane, I use the cane. And ice the knee for 20 minutes several times a day.
    A side-trick, when it comes to the cane, is that if you use your cane in crowds, and especially when waiting to board an airplane, you get some nice deference and assistance from other people!

On June 30, our last full day, alas, in Paris we were returning to the apartment from the Musée d’Orsay (where we had gone with our daughter, who had come over from London the night before – the night I spotted Joe Lieberman at Gare du Nord). On the metro, I noticed a young man, maybe seventeen or eighteen, whose right shoe lace had come undone. I found myself idly wondering whether he or one of his companions would notice it and bring it to his attention.
    The next time I looked at him, he was, in fact, kneeling and tying the lace. Not having anything else on my mind – or, rather, having on my mind the realization that watching other people is about as interesting as life gets – I watched carefully as he tied. Behold, his tying procedure was new to me! Rather than loop up one lace and circle it with the other before pulling the other through the circle – the way I have done it for seven decades – he looped up both laces to tie!

Neither photo was taken by me
    Back at the apartment, I told Carolyn, and she asked how he had tied the lace. Jennifer overheard me telling her mother, and said from the living room, “That’s how I tie mine!”
    As a child, Jennifer had found my way of tying shoes as strange as I had found the young man’s way on the metro.
    I have been practicing the double-loop method, and I can almost do it now without thinking about it. Learning to do it easily really has seemed like a new trick for this old dog. I’m grateful.

Copyright © 2017 by Moristotle

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying your Paris reports very much. And travel tips are always appreciated!