The other day, a fellow blogger wrote a post
about a friendly RATP bus driver, and I remember thinking how nice it was to read that because I love taking the bus and definitely prefer it over the metro and the RER.
Well, last night, I finally got to experience it for myself. About 30 of us got on the bus at Montparnasse and the driver got on his microphone and started talking. I thought he was just going to remind people to punch their tickets, or maybe board at the front of the bus, but instead we got:
How's it going Parisians? Are y'all coming back from holiday?
*silence in the bus while everyone ignores the driver*
Oh, come on! I'm going to ask you all again and I want to hear a "Oui or a "Non". Are y'all coming back from holiday??
*a few people feebly shout "Oui" or "Non", while the rest look around and wonder what's going on*
Okay, well that's a bit better, but not by much - I see a few of you smiling now, but there's still a lot of scowls out there - there must be a lot of Parisians on this bus! Allez, one more time - Are y'all back from holiday?
*about 2/3 of the passengers starting laughing and answer back*
Alright, now at this next stop, I want you all to shout "Bonjour" to the people getting on the bus. I know it's 9pm on a Sunday night and y'all are probably tired, but a little bit of politeness never killed anyone.
*New people get on the bus and are visibly shocked when the people around them say bonjour*
Now that's the spirit. Did they say Bonjour back? If not, they're probably Parisian.
How many of you are tourists here? Have you been to Paris before? *launches into a short explanation of the Montparnasse tower and surrounding area*. Hold on a sec - madame - yes, you on the phone - can you hang up, I'm trying to talk here? Oh-là, now she's red as a tomato! That'll teach you not to talk on your phone on the bus again!
Alright, we're getting to our next stop. You all know the drill.
*Half the bus now shouts "Bonjour" to the new passengers. More and more people are smiling, and some are even starting to talk to one another.*
Okay, we've got a full crowd - you know what that means - it's time to squeeze together. Who knows, there could even be a love connection made this very night. The man or woman of your dreams could be next to you and you don't even know it yet. Wooo, folks, I think love is in the air in the back of the bus, I just saw a young couple back there exchange a smoldering glance!
Wait a minute, who's got their camera rolling there? Gimme that! I don't want to see my face on youtube or facebook! Can you believe this people? Rotten Parisians, always trying to get rich off of someone else's back!
Then it was my turn to get off, and as I walked away, he honked at me and I turned around and gave him a big thumbs up. I walked the rest of the way home with a smile on my face, thinking about how much I love this city and how unmerited the whole "mean Parisian" mantra is. The people here really are friendly and the efforts the city has made to encourage Parisians to welcome tourists are definitely starting to bear their fruits. I've been here for a year and a half now, and can honestly say the only bad experience I've had was at a restaurant in a mega-touristy area.
But really, this is such a good reminder of how it only takes one person's good (or bad) attitude to affect a large group of people. A smile and a little bit of humor really can go a long way. Now if only the French government could convince the fonctionnaires of this....
Labels: Life in Paris