That was all I could understand from the quick french that was spoken over the loudspeaker of the broken metro train I was sitting on. I was hoping that it was simply lost in translation and that "bomb" in fact would mean something entirely different in french.
The morning had started off so nicely. I had no morning class so I go to sleep in until 10:30. I had a meeting with my academic adviser at IES at 11:30. My cellphone had died this morning so I figured I would leave it at charging in my apartment while I went to the meeting and retrieve it when I returned, along with my backpack and wallet, before quickly rushing off to class at NEGOCIA. I left my apartment this morning with only my metro pass and 10 euros in my pocket. Bad mistake.
It was a particularly cold morning. I was now even more thankful for the new jacket I bought a few weeks ago. I boarded line 3 and headed off to IES, switching over to line 13 about half way through the trip. Nothing out of the ordinary.
My meeting at IES was typical of the meetings I have been having every week since I got here. The academic portion lasted 15 minutes and then I had a meeting scheduled with the housing coordinator. This meeting ended up lasting longer than expected so I knew I was going to be in a rush to get home before making it to school on time. I knew that with no metro delays, I could make it.
Now, I should tell you that it is common for the metro to have problems. The problems rarely last longer than a few minutes though and service resumes as scheduled. I boarded line 13 and got off at Saint-Lazare (A very big station) to switch onto the 3. When I got to the platform there was a train there, which was convenient. Remember I told you I was in a hurry. I got on the train. We waited. And waited. waited some more. An announcement was made, some people got off. I stayed on and waited. I knew I was late now. I figured I would bypass going home first and just head straight for school, which is one metro stop past my house on the same line. After 15 minutes of waiting, the train finally started moving. We made it two stops and then the announcement. The announcement that sent panic through the station and ruined my entire afternoon.
What it said, I am still not quite sure. All I got out of it was BOMB......
In france, if someone leaves a bag unattended. It is considered to be a bomb. They halt the line. Take care of the problem and resume service. I knew this was different though because people were running. Most people were walking very fast, but many were running at a full sprint out the exits. It was mass chaos. People were getting trampled and groups were being separated. Police were trying to control the situation but I don't think they had much luck. Every one just wanted out.
At this point, I didn't care what exit I went out. I just wanted to get outside.
When I made it outside I had absolutely no idea where I was. My class was just starting and I was lost with no cell phone, no map, no credit cards and 10 euros in my pocket.
I tried locating a bus stop but I couldn't find one. Finally after about 20 minutes I managed to find one. At this point I didn't care where it took me. I just wanted to get on the bus and ride it until I got somewhere I recognized. The bus stop was filled with people because all metros had been shut down and all taxis were taken.
After waiting for two buses, I finally managed to squeeze onto a bus. There was a girl looking at a map next to me and I asked her in my broken french what stop I needed to switch at to catch the bus to Porte de Champert. After looking at the map, I figured out my route and thought I was in the clear. But that is just what I thought...
At one of the bus stops, everyone climbed aboard, and the bus didn't leave. Turns out that the doors on the bus would not close. Yes, the doors would not close.
Lets recap: The metro I was riding on was shut down because of a bomb. I battle the swarms of people and make it outside and furiously search for a bus. After finding said bus and managing to determine the route I need to take in order to reach school, the bus breaks.
Normally, we would just get off and wait for the next bus. But, you have to remember that this bus was crammed full of people and all the metros are stopped. Every bus that came could fit only two or three people. We had to wait 45 minutes for an empty bus to be sent out to us. Why so long? Well, because not only did the metro shut down and my bus break, but now all the stop lights in the area have malfunctioned. Just when I thought the worst was behind me, the stoplights break...
It took 30 minutes on the bus until we made it to the stop I needed to get off at. From the time I left IES to the time I got to NEGOCIA was almost three hours. I was now almost one and half hours late for class and I didn't make it home so I don't have my laptop or any paper and pens.
In all my frantic panic it didn't really click in my head that all the other students would also be experiencing the same problem. So, when I walked into class I was initially shocked to see half the class missing. Most people slowly trickled in within the next half hour or so.
It turns out that someone had called into the police station and said they had placed some bombs in the Opera metro station, which is a big station near my house. This is why everyone was more frantic than when someone simply leaves a bag and the police come to investigate the "bomb"
No bombs ever went off but I did hear from one of the other students that the police had located two bombs within the station.
Overall, I must say the day was eventful. I had never ridden on the bus here so I got a crash course on the bus system and managed to see some parts of Paris I hadn't seen before.