We blew through two seasons of Boardwalk Empire in the weeks before I left, so confessions, long a minor issue of interest to me (long story. short version: I’m not catholic, so it’s really probably just the novelty) seem like they’re in vogue. Or were in vogue. Or, probably most accurately, are in vogue, but only in my head. This, sadly, isn’t even one of those confessions (no
fun sin involved), but here we are:
I felt like (and retained the self-image of, for quite a while) a yokel when I first moved to Houston after college. My second day on the job (and the fifth day after having moved to said city), I was sent, with another engineer, to a fabrication yard on the north side of the city. Driving back to the office with him at the end of the day, we were caught amongst the southbound traffic on Beltway 8, which was at a standstill due to the work that was being conducted on the interchange with I-10 (or the work on I-10; that part is a touch fuzzy). Sitting in the passenger seat, staring at the endless ribbon of cars, all moving at sub-five-miles-per-hour speeds, I evidently made a face that caught the attention of my compatriot. He turned to me, eyebrow raised, and I (stupidly) stammered out a reply in which I said that I had never seen so much traffic. His bemused chuckle was like a knife being jabbed into my ego, and for the next few months, I wandered around with a secret shame: I was a hick, a yokel from the sticks who happened to wander to a city eight times the size of the one that I had grown up in.
I felt much the same way this morning; I rode the Metro for the first time today. At morning rush hour. Not only was it a Metro ride, it was the RER A to Chatelet to the RER B to the vast nothingness that is the eastern suburbs of Paris. Fortunately, I was with a Frenchman who, as a one-time transplant to Paris himself, was more than willing to point out all the stupid mistakes I probably would have made had I simply attempted to jump on a train by myself. Perhaps even more fortunate, I managed to keep both a poker face and my mouth shut this time, so I didn’t admit to being a hick, at least to anyone outside of my head.
Still, the trains. The transit network. The sheer scale of the infrastructure. The number of people, my god, the number of people.
Yet again, I am a yokel.