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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Striking out in Paris Part II

Strike 4
By the time I got back to Gare du Nord, I was mighty hungry. The whole place now looked like a Tokyo subway station, with people everywhere. Every food concession had a really long line, except for one, the “Snack and Chips,” which had no line whatsoever. Hmm. I’m tired, I’m hungry, and besides, the place isn’t out of business yet, so it can’t be that bad. Right?

I sidled up to the counter, which was staffed by an albino midget. The menu was above the counter, but I couldn’t help but stare down at the albino midget’s forehead in an attempt to find her eyebrows. After I found them – they’re the same color as her paper hat – I placed an order for what seemed to be the safest bet: un hot dog americaine. (Memo to self: It is a bad, bad sign when a hot dog is your safest bet.)

Now, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with how we eat hot dogs in America, let me explain how a hot dog americaine is made:

  1. Take a baguette which is only about three inches shorter than you if you’re midget.
  2. Slice it open.
  3. Stand up on your tiptoes, and pluck two wieners from a vat of boiling water.
  4. Insert the wieners into the baguette.
  5. Squeeze a generous amount of mayonnaise onto the wieners.
  6. Stand up on your tiptoes, and scoop up some French fries from under a heat lamp. Be careful not to hit the heat lamp with your paper hat!
  7. Dump the fries into the baguette, with the wieners and the mayonnaise.
  8. Wrap your little hands around the baguette, and squeeze it shut. Tightly, till the mayo and fries ooze out the sides.
  9. Bon appetit!

Strike 5
After polishing off my hot dog americaine and waiting thirty minutes, the train for Maissy-Palaiseau finally arrived. Strangely, although Maissy-Palaiseau is a major transfer point, not many people got on the train. Which was fine with me, since it’s a long ride, and I got a seat.

Alas, I fell asleep and missed my stop. When I woke up, the train was full of teenage boys who I swear were laughing at me. One of them seemed to ask me a question which I didn’t understand, and the others seemed to start laughing again.

I felt like giving them the Finger, but I couldn’t remember if it means “up yours” in France, or “Number One.” Now, I don't know what French insults are like, but I couldn't imagine a scenario where “Number One” would be an appropriate response:

“Monsier, you look like a cow and your mother is the whore of Babylon!”

“Number one! Oof!”

Rather than risk it, I just gave them the look that Bailey, our cat, gives us when she’s annoyed. They seemed to laugh some more. Now I understand the utter scorn and disdain that Bailey must feel when she’s annoyed and we think it’s funny.

At the next stop, I left the train and crossed the tracks. And waited forty minutes for the next train back to Maissy-Palaiseau.

Strike 6
I finally made it to Maissy-Palaiseau at 1:45. With luck, I could catch the next train for Jouy-en-Josas, and only be two hours late for my three-hour class, which a lot of the students here seem to be, for some reason.

I walked over to the track for my train and was intently studying the timetable screen -- which was blank -- when a woman three tracks over started yelling at me. I had no idea what she was saying, but she was vigorously gesturing me to get off the platform. Figuring I might be in danger, I left the platform and walked to the main station, where I saw a sign:

Par suite de mouvements sociaux, la circulation des trains est totalment interompue ce jour entre Maissy-Palaiseau et Versailles Chantiers.

Mouvements sociaux” wasn’t in my dictionary, but I could figure out what “totally interrupted today” meant, and it wasn’t good. At this point, my only option to get to school would be to take the train back to Gare du Nord, take another train to Versailles Chantiers, take the Z bus to Petite Jouy-en-Losges, and then transfer to the N bus to Jouy-en-Josas and HEC.

I figured this would make me five hours late for my three-hour class, which is unacceptable even here. So I gave up.

When I got home, I used Google’s translation tool and found that mouvements sociaux means “social movements.” Not too helpful.

I found a link which took me to a Communist party Website. Aha. Searching the news, I found a headline in Reuters: Trafic SNCF très perturbé, la grève des cheminots bien suivie.

Or, as translated by Google: “Very disturbed traffic the SNCF [French railroad], the strike of the railwaymen followed well.”

Yet another strike for me in France!