August 21, 2008

Food For Thought.... and other things that make you go... HMMMM!!!

Yesterday as I was about to broad the train at La Hacq. to Antony, a young guy asked me if the train stopped to Gare du Nord.. I had to think about it for a moment as there were two possibilites- Yes... or No, and get off at Massy P and change to the train that leaves from there.. I told him to get on the train and he asked another passenger... As I sat down, he started to talk to me in English, as I had spoken to him first in English... He was a young Uni student from Tunisia who has only been here two months so far... We started talked and he was telling me how he had applied to two universities in the U.S. but was denied... So, here he is in France at a private uni. in Paris, trying to get a international business degree or something like that.. He said he wasn't accepted at the public unis in Paris so he is going to a private one which will cost about 4,000 euros- of which 2,000 is paid for or something like that... 
Anyhow... as we are chatting about life in America and France... in stroll .... the "Controleurs."  And I SWEAR to you.. on this line from where I was (around Massy P), I have only been controlled about 1 or 2 in the past year and a half... I saw them first -- all 5 of them- they travel in herds, you know!  And as two of them approached us first, I told Azziz to take out his ticket.  
The lady controller took my ticket first and then said, oki... Azziz passed his Navigo to the woman and then she started telling him it wasn't good for this zone and that he would get a ticket... Normally, a ticket is 45 euros, but she said something about a "warning" and it would only be 27.  He tried to talk his way out of it by saying he didn't know ... etc... He didn't realize that he was "out" of the zone... His navigo was only for zone 1-3, I think... and we were in zone 4 or 5... Anyhow... because he had NO credit card or money on him... he even tried to make a phone call but his phone didn't work... They asked him to open his wallet and when he did, all that was in it was a picture of him... NO i.d. card, no papers, cards, money... NADA!! So strange... I told him that when he goes out out of his place he should ALWAYS carry i.d. in case he gets stopped by the cops... OOPS.. He said something about always bringing his passport with him ... I said ... No, you may lose it or it may be stolen... A photocopy will do or a copy of your CDS....  When we arrived at Antony, the two controllers asked him to descend and they continued to take his info.- name, phone #, etc... As I was walking away, I said... Gosh, he doesn't even have money to get back to Gare du Nord now... I turned around and gave him a 10 spot... I will most likely NEVER see him again, but I felt like I somehow did something nice.  When I got upstairs,  it HIT me like a brick that his pass was valid from Antony to Paris so he didn't need any money to get back. OOPS... Oh well...
That was my good deed for the day!!!  But, it also goes to show you... Always buy a valid ticket and keep it on you, and have an i.d. or something...  I told Alex about it and he said that then guy most likely did it on purpose.. that if he got stopped he purposely wouldn't have any i.d. on him to pay... But, I'd like to think that he was just really out of the zone and didn't realize that he needed to buy a ticket from that gare at least just to Antony ...  La Hacq. is a 20 minute ride from Antony and if you ride the metro for a few months you should at least KNOW that there are different zones, right??!! What do you all think about this?  I'm just curious... 

7 comments:

David said...

Of course I was not there, but I'm with Alex on that...

That's rule number one when you get controlled and didn't pay your fare: say you don't have your ID, so that they can't actually track you...

There's still a chance he was clueless, but I doubt it... If he's been here a few months, he'd had figure these things out already.
And not carrying an ID when you're from Tunisia... Well... The guy had to be more than clueless if it was true...

Samantha said...

Unfortunately, I kind of think he knew what he was doing as well...but that doesn't mean what you did was any less nice!!

And I agree with David - as sad as it is, if you're a non-white foreigner in Paris, you best have your ID on you at all times.

David said...

Actually, I meant that as a Tunisian, he must be used carrying his ID at all times in Tunisia, so it has to be a natural thing for him...

But yeah, now that you mention it, I don't think any African ignores the new fascist laws of my beautiful country...

Le Tigre in France said...

That's really nice of you Leesa, even if he knew he was doing the wrong thing maybe your kindness and belief in him will make him do the right thing in future. It's reassuring to know there are people like you in the world!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

My friend has just helped a romanian female, who was standed in Cambridge, as she had used all her money to secure place in YMCA, and needed to go back to another town to collect all her stuff. She actually took her to the railway station and bought her a return ticket.

The Big Finn said...

I'm a sucker for an accordion player, so I would probably have only given him money if he had been lugging around an accordion.

No accordion? No money!

David said...

Big Finn, you're getting it all wrong...

Accordion players are the plague of Paris (I felt like using a worse word, like 'scum', but I'll refrain), they keep on giving this idea to tourists that in France it's a normal thing to have people playing accordion in the street, though what they do is just perpetuate the cliché in the worst way possible (and they're not even Parisians, they're Roms for most of them (the traditional Parisian street music player/singer disappeared more than half a century ago))...
They're a pest, a nuisance and giving them money is the worst thing to do.

If you want to give money, give it to people that really need it, like real homeless people that are actually sleeping in the streets and starving... Of course, they're less "typical" looking and less attractive/cute/fun/whatever...

But you have to make a choice.
Do you want to help somebody in need, or do you want to satisfy your own thirst some clichés and being able to say "oh there was this accordion player, he was so Parisian, I had to give him 2 Euros" to your friends when you go back home.

(tip for you: you still can say the sentence that will satisfy your friends expectation without actually doing it you know, they'll never know)