Each Sunday night I work the dinner shift in the 10th. It's not even in the outermost circle of arrondissements, and yet once we get off work around 11 pm there is no shortage of unsavory individuals around. Here are a few of the most memorable.
1. The Gung-ho Athlete
A couple co-workers and I were heading toward the nearest Metro when a tall athletic man jogging in our direction stopped a few inches in front of us. He proceeded to belt out a couple lines of whatever song was playing on his iPod (it was in English but I didn't recognize it), before continuing on his way. Not that weird, right?
Except that it had been snowing all weekend so the temperature was well below freezing and he was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and open-toed athletic sandals without socks.
2. The Belligerent Drunkard
Inevitably at the end of every shift, there are a few stragglers who beg us to take their orders before we shut down and start cleaning. I thought this was one such customer, who sidled up with a full pint in hand after the line had dissipated, and asked for an order of fries. I'm fairly certain he was also on something other than alcohol, because after trying and failing to engage us in conversation he disappeared (to unlock his bike, I later learned), returned to toss his beer inside the truck, and began pedaling off on his getaway vehicle.
The beer landed on the hot grill (not in the nearby fryer, thank God), leaving most of us shocked by the resulting steam and acrid smell. My boss, however, immediately took off after him - on foot - and chucked the only weapon she had at the perpetrator: her burger. It hit the guy square in the face.
3. The [Potentially Paranoid Schizophrenic] Conspiracy Theorist
On the same night that we encountered #2, we were chatting near the Metro station when I felt something brush against my bag. Paranoid after being pickpocketed once, I whirled around and found myself face to face with a crazy-eyed black man. (Not tryna be racist here, keep reading).
"I am from Africa," he said in slightly accented English, his attention fixed on me despite the four others standing around me.
"Where are you from? What are you doing here?"
"Uh...I'm a student from the US," I started to say, when he interrupted me with a revelation.
"China is with the al-Qaeda!"
That's when things really started to go off the deep end. He proceeded to tell us he was working with both the FBI and CIA, and at one point even pulled his phone and held it to his ear because he was speaking to one of his "agents."
It was funny at first, but grew tiresome once it became clear he wouldn't leave us alone on his own accord. Also he had the disconcerting habit of getting really close when he spoke to you. It wasn't threatening, per se, but personal space is something I value very highly.
My boss eventually lured him away so I could sneak off into the Metro station by telling him she worked for al-Qaeda.