12.04.2006

Line 3: Communicating with the best of them

The thing to know about the metro in Paris is that it's a bit like the old line from Forrest Gump- you never know what you're going to get. Some lines have soft cushiony seats, the kind you might almost fall asleep in even when you're only going three stops. Others... not so much. And by not so much, I mean that I'm pretty sure these other metros stole their old plastic graffetied pieces of crap from a dumpster. In such metros, offering your seat to an old and/or handicapped person is an insult.

You know you've truly hit the jackpot when your metro stop has an electronic board which posts how many minutes you have to wait before the next metro arrives. These boards are GENIUS and informative. Do I have time to get out my copy of Une Page d'Amour and read for eight minutes? Or should I just sit tight and watch those people making out? (note: there are always people making out in the metro. And in the metro station. And really, everywhere in Paris. French people always coyly say "What! We're not like that!" and yet, they really, really are).

I live off of Metro Line 3. It's a good line; it cuts right across the heart of the "above the Seine" area. The fabulous feature on our line is a female voice that announces the upcoming station twice. First, she announces it while you're still in the dark tunnel. This announcement is always done in a fearful tone.

"operA?" she asks, and you wonder if you and the rest of the travelers will make it to the Opera alive.

Then a minute later, "OPera!" she exclaims. What joy! We HAVE made it to the Opera once again! The intonation is so exaggerated that you have to laugh. "What's that? A serial KILLER?" "OH... a friendly NEIGHbor!"

I usually only ride line 3 for a few stops, all of which have fairly short names; "Bourse", "Europe," and the infamous "Opera" are along my route. But today I took the metro a bit further to get to the Centre Pompidou library and I was still on when we got to a station which challenged Ms. Electronic Voice-off to the max.

"rEAumur sEBastaPOL?!?" she shrieked, unable to handle the seven-syllableness of it all.

Other lines might have the cushy seats, but no one can argue that Line 3 doesn't have the comedy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haha great post. I once heard a radio programme all about exactly this - what I hadn't thought of before is imagine if that woman is your other/girlfriend/wife/friend - how bizarre would it be to hear their voice?! And do they withdraw that tape and voice if the person dies because if not that is utterly insensitive!