At the Metro Station

Photos and text by Lupita Peimbert

People at the Metro Station excited to listen to a group of classical musicians.
People at the Metro Station excited to listen to a group of classical musicians.

It was a cold night, early January in Paris, France. As usual, Metro Chátelet was full of people coming and going. As usual, in the underground alleys that take you to the platforms for boarding the trains, a group of musicians delighted the audience with classical music. The violin, the violoncello, and the flute altogether, sounding like a magical symphony. Visitors and perhaps locals, looked and listened in awe –their smart phones on, clicked on video.

Not too far, right on the platform, a smelly homeless slept. Food scraps, dirt, and dirty water surrounded him. It was a cold night early January; he had a blanket over him, although one could see his feet and skin, as he did not have socks.

A man spends long hours and sleeps at the metro station, while passers by, hour by hour, seem oblivious to his existence.
A man spends long hours and sleeps at the metro station, while passers by, hour by hour, seem oblivious to his existence.

The pleasant smiles on the faces of those coming from the group of musicians, immediately but somewhat slowly turned into, one by one, displeasure gestures once they smell the odors coming from this man who was sleeping in the platform. People then put their hand on their nose, turned the face to the other side, and waited for the next train.

No one, not even one person stopped to see if this man was okay, if he needed something, if he was death or alive. We, human beings of today, capable of appreciating magic in music; uncomfortable with other humans beings in circumstances we deem deplorable.  What would have happened if one of us had asked him: Do you need anything? Is there anything I can do for you?

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