The Paris Olympics 2012: In the Métro

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The Paris Olympics 2012: In the Métro
By: Deborah Mends and Dennis Neuenkirchen Paris is making a big push to get the Olympic Games in 2012.  There are posters in the métros and on the streets.  One métro station, Hotel de Ville (City Hall), is entirely covered with large photos of “average” Parisians saying why they want the Olympics here in 2012. There are articles in the papers, stories on TV.  Many stores have Olympic stickers on their windows.  Everyone wants to be an Olympic partner.  There are hundreds of banners fluttering in the breeze along the streets of Paris.  Our (we Parisian guys) motto has become: Let’s Win the Games (Gagnons les Jeux).  Even as I write – Sunday afternoon – they’ve closed down the entire Champs-Elysées.  And why?  Damned if I know.  But it’s something to do with the Olympics.  If they haven’t turned the entire Eiffel Tower into a giant Olympic flame, it’s only because they haven’t thought of it.  Yet!  Olympic Inspectors visit my son’s school as a possible training site.  There’ll be money to fix it up before the Olympic participants arrive (even though there isn’t the money to fix it up as just a school). People are so excited.   And then there’s me.  I keep thinking, do I really want millions of sports-crazed tourists descending on my town?  Do I want all the hoopla the Olympics would bring, when already I’m annoyed at the hoopla that’s there just to get the Olympics?  .    But, no!  This cannot be!  I’ve got to get into the spirit of this like everyone else before they rescind my resident card and send me back to Bushland.  So, I’ve thought of a few new challenges they could add to the Olympics in 2012, if they come to Paris.  And what is more Parisian than the métro?  So these are games you’ll need a little purple ticket to play.     The 10-meter Métro Sprint with (Human) Obstacles   To be fair, if this makes it to the official Olympic competition, I’ll have a big advantage, since this is a sport I’ve been practicing for several months.  Unfortunately, despite my training and the fact that the other competitors don’t even know it’s a race, I don’t win all that often.    To get to work in the morning, I take th e RER (a train) at Gare du Nord.  Early.  Around 6 a.m.  Now, people will always rush to get ahead of you, just so they can slow down and take their time once they’re sure you’re safely stuck behind them.  And one place people just love to do this is on the stairs at Gare du Nord.  So I have to rush faster than they do, to get to the stairs first!  And thus was born this new Olympic sport.  Let me tell you about it. This morning, I entered the métro at Porte de Clignancourt,  just 2 minutes shy of 6 o’clock.  I eye potential competition as I strategically choose a placement.  Second métro car from the back, third group of seats.  No one’s here yet.  Some people might choose the folding seats closer to the door, but I’m relaxed, confident as I sit in a free square of four seats.  I’m reading the new biography of Christopher Marlowe by David Riggs.  It’s intelligent, interesting, informative – highly recommended.  I read, but I’m distracted at each stop, at each possible competitor who enters the métro.  I study people standing near the doors; these are the ones I have to watch out for; these are the ones I fear.  There’s a tall, thin black man, young and alert.  But at six a.m., most people are half-asleep– some, snoring.   The métro enters the station Barbes-Rochechouart.  More people get on.  Next stop: Gare du Nord.  And the race is on.    It’s farther between Barbes and Gare du Nord than it is between most métro stops.  I finish reading my page and put my book away.  I check out the exits in front of me and behind me.  The front exit usually lines up better with the stairs, but there’s a man with a rolling suitcase about the size of Rhode Island.  Behind, there’s no one.  Access to the door is essential.  If someone else gets their hand on the door latch before me, I know, all will be lost.  The pressure is mounting.  Pearls of sweat dot my forehead like a punctuation-crazed writer without a proofreader.  I have to make a decision.  Now!   I go for the door in front.  Step over a leg.  “Pardon!” I bark.  This is no time for being polite, but I was just brought up that way.  The man with the massive suitcase struggles to get to his feet.  I have to beat him to the door latch!  I have to get my starting block!   I shoot out my right hand to grab the metal pole in the middle of the floor and swing myself around.  There’s a fleeting image of Indiana Jones in my mind.  My left hand snakes between the latch and the suitcase man’s grasping paw.  I make it!  I have the latch!   The metro train enters into the station, slowing.  Wait for a full stop before lifting the latch?  Insanity!  I push and strain against that latch, clacking it upward like an 8/8 time castanets.  But until the driver releases the doors from his pilot’s booth, all is futility.  At last I hear the…
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