The Metro Equalizer

Public transportation is the great equalizer. On a metro, bus, or subway we are all the same; humans going from one place to the next; going to work, school, a friend’s place, coming home, looking for work, or going shopping. It doesn’t matter if you have a six-figure income or are homeless, public transportation levels us all. It serves as a reminder that we are all the same… amazingly human each with our own stories.

The world is comprised of beautiful diversity. Every day I see a full spectrum of our city’s inhabitants from the rich, to the every day worker, to the homeless, to the retired, to the vibrant students, and to the very young. The full colours of the human race tossed together. Each soul alive with ideas, doubts, dreams, anxieties, fears, histories, and futures.

I enjoy the scent of the metro where perfumes, cologne, and sweat come together to form a remarkably memorable odour. At first it was biting and difficult to breathe in, but as Paris becomes my home the scent feels more and more inviting and calming. It comforts me as I descend the steps, send my ticket through the turnstile, fall deeper into the tunnels, and strategically choose my spot on the platform to hopefully find a seat on the next train.

An old man with a cane shuffles on along side me, finds a bench, slowly sits and sighs. His eyelids heavy, deep wrinkles, unshaven stubble, an old woolly hat. He sits calmly, within in own thoughts, ignored by everyone. I look at him, wonder where he comes from. How many people has he loved? How many people still love him? He has experienced more in life than I have yet to live. I think of the amazing stories he could tell.

I look across from me and see a young man who is very thin, white and deeply tanned. His clothes are dirty, backpack big, ripped and patched, long hair tied back, big dog by his side. I assume he is homeless, knowing this is an assumption. He looks harmless… another human, another story. As he gets up to leave his dog becomes visibly excited and looks up at him in anticipation. You can tell the dog loves him.

An older woman gets on at the next stop, the seats are all taken, several people jump up fighting to be the one to offer her their seat. I ponder to think about our natural instinct to be kind. I think we all start wired this way… but some of us have the wiring undone by the stories we lived. Life isn’t always easy. We each have a story.

So why do I write about metros… Life is like a metro; you never know who will get on or get off at the next stop, or for how long they’ll be on the metro with you. While on the metro, we are all the same, sharing the same objective, sharing the small space and constantly readjusting as new people get on and off, kindly respecting one another, and breathing in a little of each other along the way.

I think if we look at our lives through this lens we instinctively know we are all the same. It doesn’t matter what position we have in life, dignity and respect for all makes the journey more amazing.

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