Tuesday, 18 March 2014

You know you're on the RER when...

Following on from my "You know you're on the metro when..." blog post, here's one for the RER. 

You know you're on the RER when...

1. You weave through the crowds and leap and bound up the stairs two steps at a time with your fellow commuters in order not to miss your train. The Chariots of Fire theme song is playing in your head and the world is passing in slow motion as you race to the finish line (and pray that you don't trip and fall).

2. You feel a little special, like Moses parting the Red Sea when you arrive at a station and are surrounded by 50 people waiting to get on your carriage with a little ready made path for you to walk through. 
Unless, they never created this path and have already started trampling onto the train before you've even had a chance to get off. Then you don't feel like Moses nor the tiniest bit special at all. 

3. When the doors open, you follow the masses on board, swiftly closing the gaps and moving as one unit because you know that being a straggler will cost you a seat and leave you standing in the carriage for your entire peak hour journey home (NOT fun).

Let's go!

4. You know exactly which part of the platform to stand on so that the carriage you get on will align perfectly with the stairs you will need to take to exit the station later. 

5. You recognise your regulateur de flux for the section of the platform you regularly stand on and it feels strange when someone else replaces them one evening. 

6. You can never seem to get used the unique scent of RER stations. It violently shocks your olfactory system each time, without fail. Its high notes of urine, base notes of grime and middle notes of "I'm really not sure quite what but I'm too scared to guess" are too complex for you to ever really contemplate acquiring any degree of appreciation.  

7. When your platform is in sight and you happen to spot a train about to leave, you immediately run to jump on that train before the doors close, peeking out of the window to check if you're 
a) actually on the right train and 
b) travelling in the right direction 
You continue to squint and try to read that screen even as the train starts moving, hoping it's the right one. 

8. Sometimes it's not. But it's a gamble you're willing to take, as long as you check that screen. You learn from that one time you assumed it was the right train. You were incredibly chuffed you made it at the last minute, merrily going about finding a seat only realising 5 stops later that it was the wrong train and now you had arrived in woop woop.

9. Everyone seats themselves according to the fundamental law of repulsion of similarly charged particles. Seating is calculated on the basis of defying Coulomb's Law, as electrostatic force does not necessarily diminish with distance. 
The ideal seat is the position the furthest possible distance away from the next commuter, even if it means sitting backwards for a good 45 minutes. 

10. You get annoyed when someone chooses not to follow this unwritten law and sits next to you, when clearly there are other available seats over... there

11. You are either an upstairs-seater or a downstairs-seater. A change to another compartment (for whatever reason) just feels weird.

12. You get to know which family of gypsies work at which stations and wonder how they have more shoes than yourself when they "have 5 children, don't work, are homeless and would like a ticket resto or 1€ or 2€".

13. You also wonder why they choose that annoying Comic Sans font when printing off their notes on little coloured pieces of paper. And why does it always look so crisp, like it's freshly printed? Do they have a stash pre-printed somewhere? Have they ever thought about getting them laminated? Surely it's not cost-effective printing new ones each day. 

14. Your heart breaks when you recognise the same kid begging for money in your carriage. Why are their parents sending them to work at this age? Why aren't they at school..!? Why why why..!?

15. You wonder if those commuters fast asleep have passed out/already missed their stop. Until you reach the end of the line and try to wake them up. Unsuccessfully. You are then torn between shaking them (and risking an assault claim) or leaving them there sleeping peacefully, as the train gently brings them back to the station they started at. 

16. It feels scary late in the evening when you're the last one left on the carriage. Except for that one creepy man in the corner. While verifying if he is in fact the last one on the carriage, you discreetly try to avoid eye contact at all cost, fearing one Medusa microsecond glance in the wrong direction could turn you into stone. 

17. You know someone or know of someone and/or you have witnessed or have personally experienced a snatch and run involving a mobile phone of some sort on the RER.  

18. Should you be left stranded by an RER strike, people are actually quite understanding of your plight (except for taxi drivers who will charge exorbitant prices in your time of need) and understand that you LITERALLY cannot get into work. 

19. You feel moved to tears and touched by the beauty of humanity when a fellow commuter jams open the RER doors with their bare hands just so you can make it onto the train at the last minute. 

20. You are REALLY REALLY happy when you hear the words "prochain arrêt" followed by the name of your station because finally, you are home...!

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