I cannot believe that I did what I did, but somehow I lost all self-control and logic and I did something that I would not advise to anyone...
I was on the line 1 metro with Copain on my way to meet up with my copine and her mari. We were sitting down when a huge group of people got in our car. I immediately stood up to make more room but felt uncomfortably squished due to a man who had draped a coat across his arm - somehow the coat was now pushed up against me. What bothered me more was that there was room behind him and he easily could have turned around to hold the middle pole and steady himself.
Then I noticed an older man to my right in-between the two sets of chairs, who was having a hard time balancing. He was bracing himself with both arms as he stood in the aisle. The strange coat man kept getting closer and closer to the old man - so close that his front was now completely pushed up against the old man's back. I wondered if they weren't traveling together because their level of closeness was off for two passengers who didn't know each other.
In addition to observing this little balancing act - old man braces - coat man pushes against him - old man acts thankful for the additional support - I was also noticing that Coat Man's arm was getting closer and closer to the old man's coat. When it finally dawned on me what was happening, instead of quietly offering my seat to the old man I yelled, "Vous cherchez dans sa poche!!!"(you're fishing in his pockets!!) and I PUSHED Coat Man's arm away from the old man in the aisle.
Coat man glared at me, told me I was crazy and I seriously thought I was going to get my butt kicked right there on line 1. I put my hands up in defeat, told him that I was clearly wrong and apologized my head off - Copain chimed in too, reiterating how sorry I was. My heart was racing and all I wanted to do was get off the metro. As I looked over at the old man's jacket pocket, I could see that Coat Man had managed to unzip it already.
Despite my suggestion that we get off the metro asap, we waited until our stop at Concorde and I thanked my lucky stars that Coat Man wasn't working with a team of other guys on the metro which is so often the case.
What was I thinking??!! Pushing a guy?!! Yelling out that he's a pickpocket??!!
On the one hand, I hope that I saved the old man from getting his wallet stolen, or others from getting their things stolen next. On the other hand, I really should have handled that another way...clearly I acted on instinct - bad instinct.
In the USA this wouldn't be such I big deal I guess, but in Paris the culture doesn't dictate that you intervene when there is an altercation. If Copain wasn't there, there may not have been another passenger who would have helped me. I like to think that most people are good people (my Maman always reminds me of this), but in Paris there is a "mind your own business" attitude - chacun sa merde (everyone deals with his/her own crap). The optimistic American in me hates this mentality but I forgot, in my haste to save the old man from losing his wallet, that I was not in America. I was in Paris, on the metro, une française.
As we got off the metro and went up the escalator into daylight, Copain told me, "it's not your fault if the old man was stupid enough to get pickpocketed." Still, though I know my reaction was not smart, I cannot get behind the French tant pis pour toi (too bad for you!) way of thinking. To top it all off, the old man wasn't even French - I'm not even sure he understood what was happening...