Boors without manners on the metro. Or why white jeans aren't practical in Paris!

He who dirties 1 seat on the way out, risks a stain on the way back. Stay civil along the entire line.

I've got a major pet peeve at the moment - tourists and Parisian residents who put their feet on the seat opposite them while riding the metro. Yes, it's hot and they're probably exhausted after a long day of sightseeing or work, but I really wish that they would show some respect for the other people who are also using public transportation.

On Tuesday, I boarded a train carrying a young man who closely resembled the animal in the first photo. Glancing around the crowded car, I debated if I should stand for the entire duration of the 30 minute journey to Gare d'Austerlitz or sit across from him. When I approached the sole empty seat in the car, Mr. Warthog sighed and grudgingly withdrew his soiled shoes. Now I understand why Parisians often wear dark colors because my white jeans were filthy by the time I returned home at the end of the day. While the stains could have come from the chair at the outdoor café where I had lunch, I'm holding the boorish man with the bad manners responsible.

Drag your feet during rush hour and you risk getting 2 or 3 complaints. Stay civil along the entire line.

In an effort to raise passengers' awareness, the RATP launched a campaign in 2011 to address the top issues that annoy travelers, including people who share their private lives with everyone else by talking too loudly on their cell phones, passengers who block the doors as others are trying to get off the train and insensitive people who don't offer their seats to the elderly, infirm or pregnant women.

According to a recent study by French polling institute Ipsos, "lack of manners" was quoted as the number one cause of stress for 60% of French people. But please don't make the mistake of thinking that it's only the Parisians who are rude. While traveling about the city, I frequently play a game with myself and observe travelers to see if I can correctly guess their nationalities. Quite frequently, it's the tourists who aren't considerate of other passengers, something that is more noticeable now that so many of the Parisians have left the city for their annual vacations.

Feeling exasperated by an annoying experience on the metro or bus? Thanks to a new website created by the RATP, you can channel that anger into creativity by producing a caption for situational photos, like the one below. Some of the captions are worthy of the weekly competition in The New Yorker!

If you would like to see the type of passenger who frustrates me the most, please visit my facebook page.  [Edit: After reading Joseph's comment, I would like to clarify that I don't have a vendetta against tourists. My least favorite passenger could also be a resident of Paris. Stéphane frequently wears a backpack while we're exploring the city]. While you're there, please "like it" (the page not the photo). Yes, this is a shameless attempt to get more likes! Evidently, something magical happens after I hit 30.

Relaxed tourist...stressed Parisian.

Comments

  1. Unfortunately Mary Kay, your angst and consternation is felt all over the world. I too am saddened by the lack of common courtesy of those with whom we share public transport. Melbourne too has issue with the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. I see inconsiderate people when I travel in other countries as well. I guess that I'm just more sensitive to it when I notice it at "home" (Paris).

      Delete
  2. oh the tourists! that could well be me. ^0^
    i hate annoying people who are just plain inconsiderate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "tourist" could also be my husband! He doesn't ride the metro as much as I do and I've noticed that he has a tendency to stop in the middle of the passage to look at a map. Its' not that he's inconsiderate, it's just that he hasn't had to dodge as many map readers as I have.

      One of the other captions that was submitted for the tourist photo was "Look, the brushes on the sides of the escalator are cleaning our shoes!" ;)

      Delete
  3. Now now now, let's not beat up on the tourists--they're a necessary "evil" wherever you are. I completely avoid Michigan Avenue here because the street is so flocked with visitors--it's easier to go one street back, and faster. But really, I think we all forget our own manners and consideration--a little, Excusez moi or Pardon goes a long way. N'est pas? Oh, and a smile.

    By the way, I love the dress the older lady is wearing in the second ad, so chic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joseph, Thanks for letting me know that my post came across as beating up on the tourists. That really wasn't my intent, especially as we're all tourists somewhere! After reading your comment, I went back and edited the last paragraph of the post.

      And you're right, attitude is a major component of politeness. I wouldn't have minded the young man's feet being on the seat so much if he hadn't acted as if I was depriving him of his personal space on a crowded metro train. Grrrr. A simple "excusez-moi" would have reduced my stress levels immediately.

      I you like that lady's dress, you would have loved the woman that I saw yesterday. It was boiling hot (for Paris!) and she looked so chic and flawlessly put together in a cream colored suit with matching shoes. Her hair was perfectly coiffed too.

      Crowds or no crowds, I would still have to stroll down Michigan Ave. It's one of my favorite streets.

      Delete
  4. Ah, civility...

    The most undervalued commodity on the planet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark Twain? Or original BostonPete? Interestingly enough, when I googled "most undervalued commodity on the planet" I got "water"!

      Delete
  5. Strangely enough we find that people are very polite on the Paris metro. They also seem very helpful and the pace of life is slower. Michael is mortified that very often people offer to give up their seats for him. Which they would never do here (he IS 72!)... he got quite offended on our last visit, till I pointed out that people were trying to be kind.

    I think this is a measure that Parisians are much more a polite population that the British! I know I have become much more polite after adopting some of the Parisians habits.

    Denise
    Love from Bolton

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If Michael feels mortified when people offer him a seat on the metro, tell him to take the bus because the average age of the passengers on the buses is much higher. I've seen people debating about who is entitled to have one of the handicapped seats - a woman with an artificial hip or an elderly woman.

      In general, it's true that Parisians are very considerate of elderly people, pregnant woman and small children.

      Delete
  6. We, too, have found the French and most particularly, the Parisians to be most polite and helpful. We made our third trip in three years to Paris last Spring and this time my husband brought along a cane for the knee problems he was experiencing. We rode the Metro extensively and it was very unusual for him not to be offered a seat as soon as we boarded. As we commented several times, the young people were especially polite. We were even brought to the front of the line when checking in at CDG. (That certainly did not happen when we left San Francisco!) All in all, it made a very positive impression on us and we can't wait to return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've also been impressed by how French security guards will often take an elderly person or a mother carrying a small child to the front of a line. My father had mobility issues after his stroke and I've frequently thought that I wish that he would have received similar treatment in the USA.

      It's good to know that your husband and you had such positive experiences while you were visiting Paris!

      Delete
  7. I couldn't wear white jeans anywhere, much less the metro. I feel the dirt would just find me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anything white seems to be a magnet for dirt. I don't usually spill things, but there's a good chance that I will when I'm wearing white! It's one of the mysteries of the universe.

      Delete
  8. PS I don't think these social marketing campaigns do any good. During my time in Paris, I witnessed several including those focused at keeping the metro clean (http://justanotheramericaninparis.blogspot.com/2008/10/keeping-it-clean.html) and two on having good manners (http://justanotheramericaninparis.blogspot.com/2011/03/are-french-really-rude.html and http://justanotheramericaninparis.blogspot.com/2009/04/attention-miss-manners.html). I can see that neither of them did a lick of good. Except for maybe keeping the PR folks busy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for including the links for your posts about former campaigns, Anne! After riding on an overly crowded bus with 3 open strollers last week, it was interesting to see that the RATP launched a campaign in 2009 against having more than 2 open strollers on a bus!

      I had a deja vu moment when I saw your March 12, 2011 post because I remembered reading it shortly after we moved here. My manners have improved since then because I'm pleased to report that I almost always remember to say "Bonjour" to the driver!

      Delete
  9. "..tourists and Parisian residents who put their feet on the seat opposite them while riding the metro. Yes, it's hot..." Haha, does this mean they're airing themselves out by putting their feet up? Ah, I couldn't resist. ; )

    But no, I agree, that would get on my last nerve too. It shows such disrespect for your environment. Like I had said in my post on Tuesday, there's this epidemic of selfishness (among other evil things) happening in the world today and it only seems to be getting worse. Good for ratp for drawing attention to it. Hopefully the message gets through!

    Have a nice weekend, MK!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the weekend wishes, Mlle Ella! I had a great one and hope that you did too!

      As for the Parisian residents - Yes, they are airing themselves out. Don't you do that?! Whenever I'm hot, I take up about 2-3 times as much space as I normally do in cold weather because I need to sprawl out! ;) I just try to restrain myself while on the metro and in public.

      Delete
  10. Oh my! Those ads are super cool.
    Its like slapping the ones who are inconsiderate on their face!!!
    Btw, I recently visited Paris and this app helped me out so good in Paris, you should check this out! Its an offline Metro RER map so I saved pretty much on Taxi and got lotta info on Tourist Places! And its really a cheap app too!!!
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paris-by-metro/id459403677?mt=8

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip about the Paris metro app. It's really helpful to know that you found it to be useful and that it works offline!

      Delete
  11. A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts