by Melinda Gallo

Enjoying my commute

I only come to Paris once a month for a couple of weeks, but I do love taking the métro. All my colleagues think I’m nuts because no one likes the métro: it’s smelly, crowded, and dirty. I don’t particularly appreciate those aspects either, but I do like the ability to travel long distances quickly, to have some quiet time to read without being interrupted, and to experience life working in Paris.

On this grey morning without any one cloud being distinguishable in the sky, I walked to the métro. People were already in work mode, walking briskly past me with their scarves waving in the wind. It is colder here than in Florence, but fortunately I’m prepared. I too have a coat and scarf tightly wrapped twice around my neck.

I watch my step on the sidewalks just like in Florence where people sometimes disregard picking up after their dogs. I walk down the narrow staircase to the métro. I buy my weekly pass at the ticket counter and pass it over the turnstile to enter. When I hear the train coming, I rush down the stairs and down the platform. I know I have to be at the front of the train to be ready for my next train.

I make my way on the train and don’t even have time to get my book out of my bag. It’s unusual that I can read on the first train because it’s generally very crowded. I stand near the sliding doors and lean against it while the train moves on to the next station. I get off at Invalides and run up the stairs, through the brightly lit corridors with advertisements on both sides. It’s one of the only ways I find out what’s playing at the cinema.

I see the train has already stopped and I run down. I have to get on one of the trains because this second line splits. It’s my train, so I jump on while the buzzer goes off and the doors bump me as they close behind me. I wait one stop where many people get off and search for a seat. I finally plop my bag on my lap and pull out my book.

For at least 15 minutes, I read my book. I don’t need to look up at the signs in each station: there’s an announcement right before arriving at each station. I listen for the stop before mine so I can prepare myself to get off: finish up the paragraph or page, if possible, and pack up my book and get my badge out to get into the office building.

I take the back exit of the station and walk up the escalator on the left while others stand on the right. I walk down the street to the office and take in the cool air.

By the time I get to my desk, I feel fresh and ready to start my day. I love my reading time because it is so hard to come by when I work at home. And in the morning, it’s a great pleasure because I never do it back home. I feel like I’ve done so much already before arriving at the office and somehow that helps me stay motivated for the entire day.

At night, the métro ride home is even easier: fewer people, less rushing around, and sometimes a colleague will accompany me. I enjoy the métro no matter what anyone says. It’s an experience I enjoy when I’m in Paris. Certainly, if I had to do it every day, it could become monotonous, but with a good book or good company it’s always a pleasure.

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