You know that thing you do when you take a path, the same path every day and you wonder what would happen if you took the other one? Well lately I have been getting the bus, then walking, then the train, then walking to work. Little girl has to be in the creche at 730am in the morning and picked up at 630pm at the latest. The result of our reconfiguring the trip to work, was me deciding to cycle to work everyday, put the bike in the car and drive home early to pick her up. However I still haven't got over some mental block so for the moment it's public Transport.
There are two buses that leave the same time from in front of the appartment. One goes down the hill eventually veering left where I get off, go down a lot of steps, walk quickly for 10 mins, cross the tram lines, and arrive at the station. The other goes, left straight off, down to the tram lines, where I can get a tram that drops me in front of the train station.
I was always getting the first bus, and wondering about the tram. If I got the tram I might see some pretty girls. If I got the tram I meet someone I know, If I got the tram I might be quicker....
So last Monday I got up late, no breakfeast, running late, sore neck, out the door. I got bus number 2. I was the only person on it till the second last stop. Two women got on there, and then got off at my stop for the tram. I ran accross the road missing the tram. I waited 4 minutes and got on the next one. The journey was slow, very slow, the tram was overcrowded. I focused on my interior self trying not to let the panic get the better of me as sometimes happens when I am stuck in a wall of bodies.
There were some pretty girls, but no one I knew.
I got to the train station and tried to get to the platform, my ticket was out of date and the controller stopped me. Shit. I had thought Monday was the 13th. I ran back to get another and there was a queue. I waited got my ticket and missed my train. It's odd as I write now, I am getting tense, more so than I was was during the event.
I stood on the platform and about 10-15 mins later another train pulled in. There were 4 people only around me, the door of train pulled up right in front of me. I pressed the button leaned my hand on the train and stood back to let people off. Something pushed at my arm. I turned and saw a small man, nervously trying to push through me. It was silly, there was loads of space the other side of me, there was no rush, there was plenty of seats, and not many trying to get on. I told him to wait, he mumbled and pushed at me again. I told him louder in French "Ay OH, Attend,laisse les autres descendre..." The guy looked at me and shoved me. Now picture it. I am fit 81kg 179 cm, dressed in jeans and smart casual shirt. He is about 59kg 150cm baggy trousers, heavy green jacket (it's warm) red dirty baseball cap, dirty and unwashed but not smelly. A few years ago if people were violent with me, I would stand my ground, pull on my inner core, stare them down, talking gently and reasonably and logically. On more than one occasion the situation has been completely diffused like this. Since I came to France I have sort of thrown out the pacifist and joined the Darwinians. I shoved him back HARD but not by any means with my full force. He was shocked and stunned. A stream of abuse came out of his mouth. He boarded the train as I did and the now 7 or 8 others waiting behind us. A business man roared at him, 'OH Monsieur comportez vous correctement". I took encouragement as I was already filled with doubt and beginning to feel this was all my fault.
I stared at the little man. He was shaking and shouting about having some card, a battery in the heart, and that he would report me. I walked away, as far as I could I found a seat and I sat. I couldn't believe when by hazzard he ended up following me looking for a seat. He was still moaning and mumbling ...he saw me and his tone raised up a few notches. All the time I was observing myself. I knew I didn't have the language skills to talk him down, but it seemed no one else did either. I can tell you that at 8 am in the morning when someone is speaking very loudly at about 300 words a minute and throwing obscenities around people get upset. The french reaction is a couple of OHH la la's and then silence. Suffer in silence. It's as if they all thought 'IF I don't look at him he will go away'. Some people got up and left. His main barrage towards me was that he had some sort of travel card, he took it out and showed it to me. 'So what?' I said quietly in French. His tone went up, he started to tremble more violently, he wished a cancer on my throat and on my wife and chilren. An intelligent lady called to him offering him her seat. He refused stating he didn't take seats from women, he had a battery in his heart and his card...( I thought of him telling him to change the battery), He abused me a lot more. His tirade was going on about 10 minutes now but I had some sort of shield around me......nothing he could say could hurt me, but it was tiring, and I was feeling the need to give him back the energy he was spewing at me. I told him to stop acting like a child.....then he lost it completely. MERDE...... MERDE MERDE, each one long drawn out, terrifying most of the people around him, his face screwed up into a rage MERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDE. To which I instantly replied with my best gallac shrug of the shoulders, 'Et Alors?' He abused me again, calling me SCUM, it was a word the President of France had used, a specific word. I thought of replying in another Presidental gaffe, 'Casse toi pauve con' Get lost you poor fool, but I didn't.... he calmed eventually going to sit on the empty seat the lady had vacated.
When I finally got to Monaco I wanted to punch him in the head. I got off the train and went to work and laugh at it now for the most part. But a big part of me wants to know what that is all about? Why is that an accepted strategy of human behaviour? How does he feel he is benefitting himself by playing such a victim?... Une pile dans le coeur....a battery in the heart, my ass! I would warrant, but I can't be certain, there was nothing physical wrong with him at all. Certainly lacking love, it sounds trite now when I say it, but why? Certainly under some enormous psychological stress. When my verbal skills are better someday, maybe I will be able to put my arm around him instead of pushing...but for the moment, no one is going to vomit there crap all over me, without me respecting myself in the process and refusing to give into the fear.
I am beginning to settle into this life her in the hexagon, and I am glad I haven't chosen his strategy to get by.
One thing is for sure, I will be getting the first bus from now on and not the bus less travelled by, for that has made all the difference.
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