Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rudeness in the Métro

While taking a trip in the Métro to the north side of town (too long a walk for the time I had), I observed a group of people heckling and harassing a young woman with a drum. She had a large drum on a little hand cart, not protected by any kind of case, with a colorful design around the edge. The people I observed harassed and ridiculed her continuously all the way to the platform. I was amazed. Normally, you'd expect people behaving in this way to be clueless, angry young males, but in this case they were all “adults,” at least in a legal sense—in fact, two of them had gray hair!

It's unusual to see people being so mean. They weren't Parisian, as far as I could tell. They were made bold by numbers, I suppose, and perhaps by alcohol, since such a large percentage of the population in France keeps a steady level of ethanol in the blood during waking hours. Still, it was exceptional and rather depressing. The woman with the drum was obviously unhappy, but there wasn't much to be done. It's not strictly illegal to make fun of someone, I suppose.

Their provincial status might have had something to do with it, if indeed they were from outside the Périph.’ People tend to be bold when in groups and far from home. And people from the provinces don't necessarily know the rules for the Big City. They might also be from some low-level scum social class where abusing strangers is the norm. In any case, their behavior was inexcusable.

Fortunately, the woman with the drum got off at a different station from the losers, so she managed to escape them.

I continued up to my destination, my favorite Indian grocery store near the Gare du Nord, where I spent 13 precious euro buying malted milk and psyllium husk, both of which are hard to find in Paris outside Indian groceries. I like malted milk and cream, and the psyllium boosts the fiber content of the sinful malted drinks I make with these ingredients. It's cheap and it tastes good. I don't know what effect it has health-wise, and I can't really say that I care.

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