samedi 10 novembre 2007

metro stories #1: beads

Lots of stuff goes down in the Metro. I should really make a collection of metro stories. Let's not forget the first, real metro story: the suicide day. But no, I'll start with a nice, uplifing one.

Line 13 direction St. Denis. I was on my way to school. The car was crowded, and I was standing up. When the car started moving, I heard a strange sound like uncooked rice spilling. In a seat at the end of the car, 1.5 meters away from me, a lady was bending down on the ground. Her bracelet had broke, and all the beads had spilled onto the ground, moving every which way as the car swayed.

The beads reached us, the standing passengers, and this small, mousy lady next to me stooped down and started picking up the beads while the car was still moving. Then this guy, this teenager next to her starts picking them up too. It was such a nice picture, it could bring tears to your eyes. Just these strangers picking up these beads. I helped too, who couldn't, it was contagious. And we didn't even speak while we did it, we just did it because it was a nice thing to do. Once we picked up what we could, we handed it to the lady who started it all, who then handed it to the lady whose bracelet had broken and who simply said, "Merci."

How lovely, how wonderfully universal. You didn't even have to know French to see how beautiful this was. It was, like most experiences, told in the language of beauty which, I think, everyone understands but on different levels. Kind of like math. If anything is improving, it's my proficiency in the language of the cinematic and the beautiful.

The French have a reputation for being cold, reserved, rude. It's not that at all. I mean, there have been instances when it seems that way, but it's not like that. At least, I've stopped thinking like that. They're just timid and don't take things superficially. It's easier to make friends with an American than it is with a French person. With the French, it takes time to get to know a person. You can't just bond over "we have the same purse!" kind of way or judge them face value. In this way, the French and I sort of share a lot in common. I remember, in high school, I had this friend who once confided in me that before she even knew me she thought I was mean and reserved just because I didn't say much. It took a while for her to get to know me, but she was glad she did and she was glad that I wasn't what she judged me to be. I think it's that way with most of my friends. And that's how it is with the French.

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