I just purchased two rail tickets to start my morning on the Marseille metro. It’s a busy line that belongs to France’s second largest city, so you’d expect it to be busy. Two tickets, 3.10 euros. There were two of us, the misses and me. We were only going a couple of stations – from Marseille section 8 to Marseille section 6. I gripped my girl’s hand ’till we arrived at the electronic turn style where I was required to wave the barcode of my ticket. The beep sounded and two glass sliding doors opened for me to go through. Upon inhalation of the air on the other side of the electronically sliding doors I had a moment of ease, a release that I’d passed the gates to another world. I’m not sure why you get that feeling. I suppose there’s that moment where you feel the doors might shut on you or your bags as you’re passing through them. As my mind relaxed, this soon snapped to a very different mood when a huge bang sounded.
What the fuck is going on back there?
It was one of those loud bangs you’d hear if somebody had run up the back of your car. As I put my eyes back on the misses, I saw one of her arms on myside of the doors, her face covered with her scattered blonde hair all over her face, as I stood there thinking, but you paid for two tickets and that fucking machine just slammed my misses like she was a little cow trying to run ahead of the cattle train.
“Are you alright bub?” I said from my side.
She didn’t answer. I could see she was doing ok, perhaps a little shocked. Marseille locals rushed through adjacent doors. I took it very personal with the doors. I stared at them and thought to myself, You wanna mess with my lady and jam on her like that? The doors didn’t answer. I revved up an almighty heave before rushing in to the doors to rip them open. I had in my mind that if those doors didn’t move, then too bad, they’d be broken. I felt strong before moving in. I could see my misses in the corner of my eye. But it didn’t matter at that point. I wanted to break that door open even if it meant there’d be glass everywhere. My lungs were full. You wanna mess with me, you fucking door!? I stepped in like a judo take down then gave those doors everything I had. But they those dirty things didn’t move… I really thought I was stronger that morning. I gave it another crack. Fuck this thing, I thought, trying to rip them apart. Optimism kicked in. It was instinctive. I knew I couldn’t beat those doors. I couldn’t even speak French. I’m not even sure if that would have helped as in Marseille, most of the assistants at the station, are bloody machines.
With my girl on left, on the other side of the doors, us 3.10 euros down, I noticed a man with a special pass wheel a large trolley with stacks of drinks equally as high as he stood on a red vertical trolley. Thank heavens, I thought, as he opened a side door to enter into my side of the metro station.
I Iooked at my girl then at the man. “Come through here,” I said, my eyes locking on my girl’s then at the man. He forced his way through, trying his best to heave me out of his way. He knew I needed a hand and soon after he knew my French was terrible. “A un problem avec le machine,” I said as my shoulder now rubbed on his. I knew damn well that wasn’t how you tell somebody in French “there’s a problem with the machine” but he knew what I meant as it was close to how you’d say it correctly, “Il y a un probleme avec la machine”, plus, we were a distraught looking couple asking for a favour. “Je veux pas risquer mon job”. The “risquer” and “job” had me shocked and thinking you won’t risk your job when we’re pleading for your help?
He wouldn’t I had to drop my request in the end. I couldn’t stop him when he walked away.
Ok, that’s how you start a Monday morning in Marseille.
Gaston Cavalleri is an Australia travel writer, author and screenwriter.