My “Rude” Parisian Turn

Stop whacking people with your backpacks!
Photo © Ann James Massey

Coming to my studio on the metro after church one Sunday, I had my own rude “Parisian” turn.

I was seated comfortably in the open section of the coach where the doors part and the seats unfold down. A couple of tourists arrived with their backpacks in place. It was not crowded so I remained seated, as did others.

Paris Métro Photo ©2022 Ann James Massey

Suddenly, whack! I yelped in surprise and pain. One of the tourists standing in front of me had turned to her friend. Her large backpack, filled with rocks or books (so it seemed), hit me square and hard on my upper right cheek, missing my eye by only a centimeter. Not a pip from her, not an “excuse me,” nothing. I reached up and punched her well covered arm to catch her attention. She looked at me blankly and I angrily stared at her while carefully rubbing my now-swelling cheek. Actually, my cheeks are naturally red and round, so perhaps she saw nothing just as she had felt nothing. No doubt she thought I was just being ill mannered since she had no idea that she had blindsided me with her back appendage. Nonetheless, everyone in the immediate area of the coach was staring at her and her companion in solidarity with me. They got off at Bir Hakeim, the next stop. Most likely, they were on their way to see the Tour Eiffel, blithely unaware of the girl’s unconscionable action, and probably clucking their tongues about those rude French.

My unknown seatmate asked me gently if my eye was okay and I affirmed it was, though my cheek was still aching. To her surprise and amusement, I reached into my bag and pulled out an ice pack, placing it lightly on the sore spot. Often, after church, I stop to do a little shopping at an open Franprix (small grocery chain) near the Cathedral; therefore I have an icepack and small insulated bag on hand to keep perishable items cool on the long ride to my atelier. We laughed together and talked of the necessity of being well prepared to ride the metro in Paris.

There does seem to be a universal lack of common sense with some backpackers as evidenced by this amusing and telling article by Tom Scocca.

Officially, backpacks are not to be carried on the back in public transport in Paris. The RATP régulations state:  Ne pas porter son sac à dos mais le déposer à ses pieds de manière à ce qu’il ne gêne personne. (Do not carry your backpack but place it at your feet so that it does not bother anyone.)

© 2022 Ann James Massey, SWA, CPSA, UKCPS, AAPL

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