Resquilleur – But for the want of a Metro Ticket, an Election was Lost!


Resquilleur. Before this week, I admit, I had never come across this word. Maybe it’s because I buy Metro tickets. When there’s a ‘control’, I usually have the used Metro ticket handy in my jacket pocket to show to the normally polite, soft-spoken ticket controllers. Only once did I inspire the ire of a ticket controller. When I pulled the Metro ticket out of my pocket, I produced a dozen used tickets. She was furious for me for having wasted her time by forcing her to verify which out of the dozen tickets qualified for the ride I had just taken. If she could have issued me a ticket for being disorganized, she would have – but that was the only negative experience I’ve encountered with a control.

The concept is pretty simple. They ask for your ticket. You show it to them. If you don’t have it, you pay – and then some.

Resquilleur or resquilleuse is someone who is taking a free ride, or a free theater seat for which he or she should have paid. Probably all of us at some time or another in our younger days – have taken a free ride or snuck into a movie theater. It’s easier to accept this of a teenager – society is less-forgiving of adults. Such is the case for the recent disturbance at Gare du Nord which began when a 32 year old man jumped the turnstiles and did not respond well to being stopped.

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No matter what happens in an election year, even the most banal case of a Metro rider jumping the turnstiles or hopping onto the bus for a free ride (which happens EVERY day in Paris), it’s fodder for the political gristmill.

This free Metro ride will cost one candidate the election. Of that, I am sure. But which one? Sarkozy and Royal have been so eager to pin their hopes of gaining an edge on this ‘issue’ dropped from the heavens (almost like an imitation palm tree from the second level of Gare du Nord), that they both may have jumped too eagerly at the bait: an easily understood, easily discussed, and easily polarizing issue – ‘there are no free lunches’.
Everybody’s got to pay. Needless to say, in France this is definitely not the case. There is always the exception.

Up until this point the general attitude has been that the votes could go either way for Sarkozy or Segolene (not forgetting that there are other candidates) What better luck than to have the case of an unpaid Metro ticket galvanize that immense pent-up rage of working French (note here, not working CLASS, plain and simple working French) to be:
A)Royally pissed off that people continue to enjoy a free ride at the expense of those paying taxes ad nauseum.
or
B)Royally pissed off that the government subsidized transportation shouldn’t be totally free.

One thing is certain, regardless of who wins the French vote, Royal and Sarkozy have shown themselves to be formidable and brilliant opponents. Maybe when this is all done and over with, they should marry.