Like I said in my first post about Surviving Paris: The Arc de Triomphe, Paris is a city that somehow makes me lose all good sense (and any good luck) that I have.
This is me in Paris:
[Please note the beautiful, oversize red purse in both pictures.]
[Please note how happy I look before Sarah’s Parisian Disaster #2.]
The red purse, now affectionately named the purse that almost did me in had been a recent purchase of mine at the weekly market in the charming city of Tours, where I was studying at the time. It was very large, and I thought it very practical for travelling. It stored food, guidebooks, sweaters, water bottles – you name it, the red purse could hold it. Naturally, I brought it on my 3-day trip to Paris.
So, my friend and I, counting our lucky stars after managing not to die during our traffic dodging session at the Arc de Triomphe, had decided that the Metro (subway) was probably a safer mode of transportation for the rest of our sojourn in the city of lights.
Minds made up, we bought weekend Metro passes, and continued to buzz around the city making use of our unlimited rides. I can’t recall exactly where we were or where we were going (the traumatic events that followed surely blurred my memory of the day) but I do remember that we were rushing to catch the next departing Metro to somewhere.
Being the prepared traveller that I am, my nose was in the Rick Steves’ France guidebook, double checking the name of the stop we needed to get off at. Now, please let me advise you that running anywhere while trying to read a book is not a good idea. Running down stairs into a crowded metro station while trying to read a book is even less of a good idea. Running down stairs, nez-in-livre, as I was, into a crowded metro station then leaping like a gazelle into the train, is just about at the bottom of the good idea list. Vous comprenez?
Being a bit more athletic than yours truly, my amie had made it into the packed Metro car without incident. My gazelle-like leap certainly landed my feet into the car, but not much else. Now, let it be known that in 2008 when this happened, the doors on Parisian Metro cars closed very, very forcefully. I would actually watch them as they noisily banged closed, bounced off each other and settled more gently into a closed position just as the car was set into motion. Someone could really get hurt in those doors! I remember thinking to myself. Little did I know, that someone was going to be me…
So, I landed with both feet in the car, but somehow half of my body got stuck in the angry doors. I tried to extract myself from between the doors, but to no avail. Why? Why wouldn’t my skinny little chicken arm slide through the doors and join me safely in the car? Beacause the incredibly large mass that was the purse that almost did me in was hanging off my shoulder and had also got caught in the door, thus preventing me from going anywhere.
It was at this point that my friend started to panic. She grabbed me and started pulling, frantic, mouth agape, eyes wide, stammering, stuttering and shouting some mess of Frenglish gobbledeygook, trying to help me.
All I, on the other hand, could muster, was a stunned (but loud) “This is me, stuck in a door!” (An excellent quote, I must say, had they been my last words).
Just then, the car started to slowly pull away from the platform and I realized that we were slowly but surely headed for a tunnel. The car I was in would soon come within inches of the tunnel wall, at which point one of my limbs and my beautiful red purse (both of which were very dear to me) would probably be ripped clean off of my body. Quelle horreur!!!
I frantically flailed around, struggling to get free, imagining a new, limbless version of myself that somewhat resembled the black knight from Monty Python (“Tis but a scratch! It’s only a flesh wound!”). Finally, seeing my distress and maybe even understanding my friend’s cries for help, a man stepped forward and with his brute strength, managed to pry the doors open wide enough for me to pull my arm and my purse to safety.
Horrified, shocked, stunned, scared as I was, I believe I was able to stammer a merci to the Incredible Hulk man, and spent the rest of the ride convusling with hysterical laughter and getting some extremely strange looks from the Parisians.
So what did I do with the purse that almost did me in? I kept it, of course, as a souvenir of another near-death experience in Paris.
Paris: 2, Sarah: 0