Caught between a rock and a hard place

The other day I was travelling between classes and reached Esplanade de La Défense. As I entered the metro, I decided that I didn’t have enough time to buy a sandwich from the Bonne Journée (French bakery chain) in the station. I validated my Navigo and went down to the platform, where my train was leaving.

There were three minutes until the next one.

Being rather hungry, I ran back up the stairs and out the gate to the Bonne Journée where I bought a poulet crudités.

When I returned to the gate of the metro, I touched my Navigo to the reader. “Passe déjà validé,” it read.

I couldn’t get through.

Not to worry – this had happened to me before.

Rather than try jumping over the gate, I bobbed down and scuttled under it. The structure of this gate was in two parts – first, there was one of those turning gates with three bars. Next there was a gate like a door. Having gotten past the turning gate, I pushed the door.

It wouldn’t open.

I was stuck between two gates, and I couldn’t open either of them.

I pushed the door experimentally. It budged about half an inch. I looked at the space between the door and the neighbouring gate. 15cm? Maybe 18? My arm would definitely fit through, and my leg (below the knee), though I wasn’t sure about the rest of me.

Oh what the hell – I had a class to reach. I slid one arm through, then a shoulder, then a hip. As I stood with the edge of the door running down the centre of my body, I saw a man watching me in amusement from the other side.

I couldn’t get stuck now. I gritted my teeth and wriggled through.

Vous avez la bonne chance d’être petite,” he said.

I grinned and trotted down the stairs, slightly short of breath with a distinct ache in my breastbone, reaching the platform as the next train arrived.

2 thoughts on “Caught between a rock and a hard place

  1. Thanks for the brill blog posts! I have often found myself in the same situation with Navi-Gos having a mind of their own!
    I’m hoping to become a TEFL teacher soon so your blogs have helped me to understand what im getting myself into!

    • I know, my Navigo can be a bit of a nightmare at times (and it only ever misbehaves when I’m in a rush!) :p
      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog – if you have any TEFL questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, or send an email to jolieaparis [at]


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