And then the ticket inspectors entered our car. After the inspectors checked our tickets, they moved down to the next bench, and the saga began.
Suddenly, the couple only spoke English, and did not understand French. And... they didn't have tickets.
And they could not consistently explain how they had passed through the gates at the station they had boarded at. And could not describe what class of tickets they had had, how they had paid for them, who they bought them from, where a receipt for them may exist. For a while there was evolving story about how some tickets they had bought from some "agency" had not "registered" and so a station staffer had let them though the gates. The inspectors were not buying any of this.
I mean, jeeze, if you are going to lie about it, be consistent with your lie, and have your story straight ahead of time! Something simple like "we bought them for cash, and didn't realize we had to keep them with us while on the train", instead of a complex and evolving confabulation.
The other young attractive and formerly vivacious people sitting on that bench with them were looking agonizing embarrassed, eyes down, skin flushing, they wanted to be anywhere else, sitting near anybody else.
Then the couple offered to buy necessary tickets then and there. The inspectors agreed that yes, they were going to buy the tickets, AND they were going to pay a €100 fine. Each.
Oh, but they didn't have that much cash!
During these events, the young woman's sleeveless blouse was getting adjusted lower and lower, to reveal more and more light coffee colored décolletage. The inspectors were not buying that, either.
Oh, you don't have a credit card, bank card, or bank account? Anywhere? That's okay, the inspectors can just impound your passports as collateral. And then there will be an additional €120 charge for recovering your passports. Each. And if you don't have passports to use as collateral, then the police will get on at the next station to take you off to hold in jail as collateral for the fines.
Suddenly, they had money. A payment card was produced, inserted into the one of the inspector's handheld terminal, which then printed a receipt and two train tickets. Then the inspectors moved on to the next car. The couple was a lot less vivacious for the rest of the ride into Paris.
I hope that €200 fine was worth jumping the gate to avoid buying a pair of €1.20 tickets.
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