Thursday, June 14, 2007

a bus fine

When you ride any public transport in Paris, you must always validate you ticket before you ride the metro, bus or train. Nothing happens if you don't validate your ticket, buzzers don't buzz, lights don't light, etc, but it is illegal not to do so and if the controllers catch you, they will fine you on the spot. You can be fined for other things, too, as I found out yesterday.

Mon petit fee and I got on the bus, I validated my ticket (he still rides free), and we took a seat. I was about to call the porcellino when we reached the next bus stop. Four controllers entered the bus, two at the entrance and two at the exit, not to intimidate or anything. The noise level always diminishes, though usually from practically nothing to literally nothing, when they enter. This time was no exception. I had my ticket out in hand, ready, no make that, eager like a puppy ready to pee, to show one of them my ticket. So was everyone else on the bus, or they were digging through their sachels, pockets, butt, to find where on earth they put their ticket.

The girl sitting across the isle from us was about 22 years old, very cute, talking on her cell. She had her ticket in hand and took about thirty seconds to wrap up her phone call so she could appropriately present her ticket to the controller. Apparently however, she took thirty seconds too long. The female controller demanded my ticket and I shot it out like a, well, just very fast. The male controller stood by the pretty young lady ready to chomp. Fangs, saliva, venom, the works. As soon as she hung up the phone, he slapped her with a fine for not getting off the phone fast enough! She was flabergasted as were everyone else on the bus. It was already silent, but somehow it managed to become ... silent?er?. I think this would be a good way to save some clean air because we all stopped breathing it for several minutes while they argued back and forth. That was just as surprising to me as her getting a ticket. At the end of their four minute disagreement, she handed him her credit card, he swiped it and made her already low balance thirty five euros lower. If you think that you were not in the wrong, you would have to take your claim to the mairie (town hall) and duke it out before a judge there, not with the controller. If you loose, however, you pay 100 euros instead of the measley thirty five or whatever it was that you got. After that confrontation, I slid my cell phone in my bag like a dirty pair of panties - not that I would know what that's like! Mine are always clean.