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Distraction or Accident

I was in Paris on Saturday. It was unseasonably warm. The crowds were out in droves. The metro was packed. Every car looked like something out of a cartoon with passengers mashed up against the glass doors.
The problem was: longer time needed to get out of the car, longer time needed to get on. I believe the doors are timed, and do not automatically open if someone is in the doorway.
Anyway, I had just gotten off, when I heard a lot of yelling. A woman with a baby over her shoulder had tried to wedge herself into the car when the doors, there were two sets, had closed on her. She was screaming, the baby was screaming and a number of passengers were yelling and trying to get the doors to retract. Which they did, but it was pretty scary.
Later the skeptic in me wondered. Was she really trying to force herself into the car at the last minute, or was she a distraction with a partner nearby who was ready to pick one's pocket.
Has anyone witnessed such an occurrence?
At any rate: Beware the Doors! The little sticker with the bunny getting his hand caught in the door...he ain't kidding.

Posted by
2000 posts

The doors are controlled by the conductor. However, they cannot be left open continuously or the train would never leave the station. Once the door horn sounds, indicating imminent door closure, only a fool would attempt to force her way onto the train carrying a child.

This sounds like nothing other than bag judgement on the part of a careless mother.

Posted by
5547 posts

People trying to squash onto overfull tubes and shouting “move up/in” is an everyday occurrence in London so I wouldn’t think anything of it.

Posted by
7597 posts

Could be either, although I tend to believe the pickpocket gangs are more skilled/practiced than to actually get a baby stuck in those double doors on lines 1 & 14. (Which are by the way operated remotely by operators in the control center).

It drives me absolutely nuts when people try to push in after the signal has sounded. There will be another train — usually in 2 or 3 minutes, or maybe 5. There is just NO reason to try to push onto a train that you are a little too late for.

Posted by
482 posts

Hi Kim,
I felt the same way. What was she thinking? With a babe in arms! I couldn't believe that someone would risk injury to themselves and their baby just to jam themselves into an already packed car. Exactly, wait 5 minutes, another car will come along.

Posted by
776 posts

The woman with a baby was obviously from Chicago. In Chicago people run for trains and buses because there just might not be a next one for an hour or so or a day or two.

Posted by
11832 posts

If anyone knows the timing on the doors, it's the thieves. They're more likely to grab something and hop off just as the doors are closing. Thieves do use crowds and commotion as a way to distract potential targets. This is a distraction but doesn't seem like the normal ones - like stopping at the bottom of an escalator for no reason.

Posted by
681 posts

totally agree Emma, this is pretty every day stuff. Sad (for mother and baby) but nothing unusual, so sorry Brad I don't agree.

Posted by
6871 posts

Everybody who uses subways regularly knows the timing on the doors. Plus it's announced beforehand that the doors are about to close. Too much overthinking over this. People try to squeeze through when the subways are packed in the same way that people tend to try to squeeze through yellow lights (that almost immediately turn red) when they're stressed and have been sitting in traffic too long. Same psychology with the subway. I've seen locals with suitcases and back packs get stuck, tourists with strollers who try to "block" the door open and have no idea that the doors will in fact close on them, etc. I've seen this on multiple subway systems, including my own. The doors do have safety features and they will open (eventually) when sensing an obstruction even if it feels like it takes forever. The train won't be able to leave the station with an open door.

Posted by
6615 posts

One of the reasons I retired to Chicago from a big southern city (and have been blissful every since) is it is the closest thing to Paris I could find in the US including excellent public transport. Trains don't run as often as Paris but they are reliable and regular and usually come every 5 to 15 minutes depending on time of day and the bus comes by our door about every 7 minutes during rush hour and 15 to 20 during non rush hour. so yeah -- doubt this was someone from Chicago fearing no train would be coming.

Americans don't realize that OSHA is not everywhere in the world. (and given current trends towards protecting corporations rather than people, apparently only slightly still present in the US)
I remember a terrifying bus trip in Florence where the bus door closed on me and instead of popping open like it would anywhere in the US the bus took off with me hanging off the side in danger of being killed by posts near the road as we roared by -- I was rescued by passengers who forced the door open and pulled me in. When the doors close in Europe, they close -- they don't necessarily have the pop open feature Americans are used to -- and yeah only a fool runs that risk with a babe in arms.

In a crowded metro car pickpockets don't need distractions to pick pockets -- anyone foolish enough to have valuables in backpack or pockets will eventually learn this lesson.

When I lived in Germany in the early 60s there were several elevators that I used that you jumped on while they were moving. A car would slowly move by an opening in the wall and you would jump on. Some were tiny -- holding two or three people and some were gigantic holding maybe a dozen. I still have a bit of an elevator phobia and nightmares about these 'pater nosters' -- I am pretty sure if you tripped and fell and got caught they would keep going. They moved slowly but still they were terrifying. Don't assume safety features required at home will be there in another country.

Posted by
1260 posts

"If anyone knows the timing on the doors, it's the thieves"

I'm guessing you don't have a lot of public transport where you live!

Some people are crooks. Some people are idiots. And, of course, some people are both. My entirely unsubstantiated view is that humanity has many more idiots than it does crooks. So, on that basis only, I'd suggest this was an accident instead of deliberate distraction.

Posted by
776 posts

"One of the reasons I retired to Chicago ............. including excellent public transport"

(another sweeping generalization)

That depends on where one lives in Chicago. Retired, Janettravels was not dependant on the bus or el for her daily commute and has obviously not waited for a bus at the corner of Damen and Chicago Avenue or an el at Damen and Milwaukee outside, shelterless on an above ground platform in snow, sleet, rain, hail. Janet probably lives on the near north side or pretty close to the lake where things are different than they are in more working class Chicago.

Posted by
7597 posts

It’s funny because just last night on the way home from work, I DID wait probably 10 to 15 minutes and let 5 or 6 trains pass by while I waited for one that I felt like had a little more room and wasn’t sheer torture to board. Others wanted to force themselves in the first one that came along? Fine with me, but not my style. We do exist who prefer a wait to traveling like a sardine, and often you have options. As I figured last night.

Posted by
6615 posts

Emma -- they are 'different' -- and the traveler doesn't know and should not assume they are the same. I have experienced doors that don't pop open when they close on people in 3 different European countries -- no one should assume they will not be trapped in a door closing because in their own country they are set to release the trapped passenger. I haven't tested it on the tube in London so perhaps they spring open there. The point is to not assume things are as they are at home.

This goes triple on cross walk safety. Enforcement of these rules differs in the US by state -- in some states you are safe crossing in a crosswalk and in others you had better watch out and it is similar in Europe where in some you take your life in your hands crossing the street in a marked crossing.

Posted by
2000 posts

The idea that métro trains run every 15 minutes is nonsense. Most lines have a 2 to 3 minute interval between trains and none is scheduled with wait times in excess of 5 minutes. The subject here is about someone trying to push the envelope of safety by forcing herself onto a train well after the door warning horn had sounded, endangering herself as well as her child.