Friday, July 10, 2009

Taking a break...

I've decided I'm going to take a break from traveling this weekend. It's only a 2 day weekend, so I'm not missing out on too much. I think it'll be good to take some time to relax and recuperate for the last few weeks of my time here. I'll probably going into Metz tomorrow for lunch. I have yet to check out the cathedral, and it would be a shame to miss out on that before returning home. I think I'll spend the rest of my time relaxing in my room, watching movies, reading The Kite Runner, and, of course, UPDATING MY BLOG!!! I've been slacking quite a bit lately, but I will make up for it this weekend. I have lots to share about my last weekend in Barcelona and maybe even about my trip to Prague and Salzburg from two weekends ago. We'll see though; let's not go too crazy just yet.

First things first...I have a crazy story about what happened to me and a group of friends last night. Yesterday, it was Brian David's 21st birthday, so we decided to go into Metz for a nice meal to celebrate. We went to this great Mexican restaurant in Metz. It was one of those classy Mexican restaurants; although, I have a craving for cheap Mexican food and unlimited chips and salsa now. I'm definitely going to one once I get home. Continuing with my story, we had a great dinner and enjoyed just hanging out in Metz. I haven't done that much this summer, so it was nice to get away from GTL on a weeknight. I paid for it a little bit by having to cram in my Probability & Statistics homework this morning, but it was definitely worth it. After dinner, we walked to where we needed to be to catch a night bus back to where we live. This is where the story really starts.

So, we get on the bus on time no problems and sit in the back. We were a group of 5 guys (Scott, Brian, Brian, Patrick, and I), which of course makes us the stereotypical group of GT students. Anyways, we're on the bus just talking and laughing about whatever when these 2 teenagers (probably a couple of years younger than us) get on the bus and sit across from us. It's really weird because one of them spits on the floor in front of us. Nobody spits AT ALL in Europe, so we were all pretty shocked that he did that but didn't think anything else of it. At another stop, an older French guy (probably mid to late 20's) gets on the bus and sits around all of us as well. By this time, we've started getting some pretty ill looks from the two teenagers, and it's immediately obvious that this new guy doesn't like us either. He wouldn't stop staring at us with a look of hatred and started speaking with in French with the two boys across from us. I don't speak much French, but it was obvious he was saying some pretty nasty things about us. They kept looking at us as if to mock us and show how much disdain they had for us. It was almost like we were being taunted. At this point, we were all like "seriously, what's going on and what did we do to deserve this." We add a feeling something bad was going to happen, but at the same time we were a group of 5 guys. Now, I'm not the biggest guy in the world, but Brian and Patrick both play rugby and the other Brian is quite built and very intimidating (his beard definitely has something to do with that). Scott is kind of the X-factor though. He's definitely a big guy, but like me is pretty calm and wouldn't be the fighting type. However, if you've ever played soccer with Scott or watched him play, then you know there's another side of him that's pretty scary. But that's not the point. Anyways, we thought there was no way they would think about doing anything to us. Nonetheless, the group of French guys continued to talk bad about us while throwing in English cuss words as well and spitting in our direction. It was all incredibly surprising and unbelievable. It was almost amusing to us that they would act that way. I understand Americans aren't well liked but still.

We decided just to get off the bus at an earlier stop because it would be faster to walk back, and it obviously just wasn't a good situation in there. We accidentaly pressed the button to demand a stop a bit early. Brian (the one with the beard) felt bad that we did that, so he just got off and decided to walk from there. We waited for the next stop, although we ended up waiting for Brian to catch up with us before heading back to our dorms. I'm getting ahead of myself now though. Back to what happened when we were getting off the bus....

So I'm the first to get up and press the button to open the doors and get off the bus. With my back turned to the group of French guys and about to walk out, the older French guy proceeds to jump out of his seat and punches me in the back of the head. Yes, that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I assure you it happened. I WAS PUNCHED IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON. We all could tell that there was the possibility of something bad happening, but we did nothing to provoke the guys whatsoever. I think our first reaction was pure shock at what had happened. I got punched!!! After hitting me the guy immediately backs off behind his seat. At this point I'm already off the bus and completely bewildered as to what just happened. The guy then proceeds to swing at Patrick. This all happens pretty quickly of course, and by now we're all pumped up with adrenaline and pissed off at what was happening. However, I think we all knew that the group wasn't a threat to us at all, so there was no point in retaliating. Our group continued getting off the bus while getting swung at, spat at (this time they actually were directly aiming for us), and even kicked at. The teenagers joined in at this pont. It was absolutely BIZARRE. As I said, we really didn't feel threated at all, which I is why I think none of us retaliated. It's probably best that we just got off the bus as well since we're in a foreign country and who knows what could have happened to us legally or whatever. So, we all get off the bus and are yelling and pissed off at what happened to us for no reason. The group of French guys continue cussing and spitting at us from the bus. I think they definitely knew better than to follow us. The rest of the people on the bus were shocked as well. Everybody, including us, was like "did that really just happen?" There was an attendant on the bus who started making his way back to where the group that attacked us were. I'm not sure what happened or what he said because the bus then started to pull away. All the while, we're on the side of the street absolutely pissed off about what happened and completely at a loss for why it happened. Like I said, we waited for the other Brian to catch up with us before heading back to our dorms. He was a bit disappointed to have missed out on all the action and was surprised about what happened but not really shocked either. We all knew that there was danger of something bad happening. It was clear that the French guys loathed us. They were definitely looking to start something. Once again, I still can't believe all that actually happened. I got punched in the back of the head!!! We are all pretty sure they hated us because we were Americans. We weren't even being dispruptive or acting like the stereotype though. By now, we've learned how to fit in and respect the standards and expectations of French culture/social behavior. It's awful what those guys did to us.

I'm not sure what's going to happen next. It looks like we're going into Metz on Monday to file a police report. There are surveillance cameras on the bus as well. I definitely want some form of justice. It's not right to let such horrible behavior go unpunished. I just wish I knew what was going on through the minds of the people that attacked us. There's no way I can possibly understand why they did what they did, but I would like to know their reasoning. I've never really been the victim of a crime (...well I did have $775 stolen from me when fraudalent charges were placed on my debit card). But there's no direct contact between criminal and victim in that case. It really is unfortunate that some humans can be so awful to the people around them. Crime is inexcusable.

Here are pictures of our group of guys on the bus. I took these just before things turned bad.




Brian (...notice the awesome beard)

I'll be sure to keep the blog updated with what happens.

...and on a lighter, happier note - TODAY IS ANNA AND I'S 6 MONTH ANNIVERSARY!!! I love you Anna! Thanks for all the wonderful memories we've shared, and I am so happy to be in a relationship with you. You make everything better! I can't wait to be back home with you soon. I promise we'll celebrate when I get back :)

1 comment:

  1. Josh -- I'm so sorry that happened to you. You guys obviously handled it in the best possible way, but it still horrible to think you were treated as your were... not because of anything you had done to provoke the situation but, almost certainly, because of an immutable characteristic: your nationality.

    In responding the way you did, though, you honored the best ideals of who we are as a people. To reaffirm your faith, I suggest you read President Nicolas Sarkozy's speech to the U.S. Congress two years ago --

    Read the whole thing. But pay careful attention to what Sarkozy said about the things America has taught the world about personal responsibility:

    "America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who—with their hands, their intelligence and their heart—built the greatest nation in the world: 'Come, and everything will be given to you.' She said: 'Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent.' America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance.

    Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That's what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom; she taught them how to practice it. And she fought for this freedom whenever she felt it to be threatened somewhere in the world. It was by watching America grow that men and women understood that freedom was possible."