Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Shifting gears

Monday, October 15, 2012

One of the biggest changes for me when I am in Paris is my daily routine. My work life in Florence is flexible; however, in Paris, I have to follow my office’s work hours. I arrive around 9 am, work a few hours, take a lunch break with my colleagues, and work until 6 or 7 pm. My mornings in Paris are timed almost to the minute so that I can keep my usual routine of writing every morning and running three or four times a week and still managing to get to work on time by taking the métro to where my office is located.

To keep up with my daily routine in Paris, I have learned to optimize my commute. I walk to the métro car that is the closest to my exit. On the first métro, I am in the front of the train so that I can dash up the stairs, walk briskly through the long corridors and head back down another set of stairs to reach the end of the second métro I take.

I stand at the doors on the first métro and get off at the second arrêt (stop). I try my best not to touch anything, but it’s virtually impossible with the movement of the train. In the winter when I wear gloves, can freely hold on to anything. On the second métro, I try to find a seat because I have about 8 arrêts (stops). I strategically position myself so that at the second stop, Champs-Elysées Clemenceau, where a lot of passengers get off, I can grab one of the newly vacant seats. I think in the last two years I’ve been commuting on this métro, I’ve only not sat down a handful of times.

Once I am seated, I always pull a book out of my bag and dive into it until it’s my arrêt. Sometimes there’s a woman’s voice announcing each arrêt. I keep my ears open, but a couple of times I was so engrossed with my book that I missed my arrêt entirely and had to take the métro back the other direction.

Even though my time is tighter in Paris, I have many other advantages: I get to have lunch with my colleagues, spend a lot of time walking, and read on the way to and from work.

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