I’m on the night bus home, and I know I’ve had this exact conversation with too many French men before. Apparently there is no way to say "Non," in French.
Suddenly I’m regretting not having taken a taxi. I'm regretting not spending the night at my friend’s house. I’m regretting grabbing the wrong bus, which is going to take me hours to get home on.
My two week vacation began with a beautiful spring sunshine, wine and dinner in my apartment with a friend, a train ride across Paris to his place, and eventually, the dreaded night bus back home.
Because I always try and take the night bus and end up flagging down a taxi instead, I insisted on taking it last night. Not only that, but I had to get to the other side of Paris, and a taxi would cost more than I had in my wallet.
When I switched buses at Gare de Lyon I was immediately approached by two young men. I tried to ignore them at first, but this had no affect on them. So instead I spoke to them, looked them in the eyes, and showed that I wasn’t afraid of them. Eventually I was laughing with them, but I was also trying to make sure they got off at a stop before me.
After refusing many drink offers for them, I pushed the button for them to get off at the Oberkampf bar area.
I happily made my way to the back of the bus, expecting to arrive home soon. Soon ended up being a lot longer than I thought.
I had taken the wrong N12 bus. If I had taken the right N12 bus, I would’ve made it home in half the time, but this bus was going in the other direction, and I would do a full tour of Paris before I could crawl into my bed.
Soon the bus emptied. I lay down in the back, tired and helpless, unable to do anything but wait. The bus driver pitied me, but had to follow his route.
I was lucky enough to befriend two young men with a big bag of tortilla chips, willing to share, and asked them to pass some over between my naps.
The story should end here. I should make it home and into my comfortable bed, tired and happy.
But the first two to harass me got back on the bus when we circled back through Oberkampf.
It was funny until they stayed on until my stop, and got off with me.
They weren’t threatening, dangerous or aggressive towards me, but they followed me home. Eventually I stopped laughing, had my phone out to call the Police, and was screaming “Goodnight!” to their confused faces.
I didn’t want them to see my door code and kept insisting they keep walking before I went in.
One started a monologue on how they didn’t want to harm me in any way, and kept giving me a prolonged goodnight, wanting us to part on good terms.
But I just wanted to go to bed.
My voice became so angry and loud that even I was startled.
Eventually I made it into my building at five in the morning, with them heading down the street, my angry tone of voice still ringing in my ears.
I think I’ll stick to taxis from now on.