Translation of a letter from a bus passenger, published today in the Parisien [my favorite French newspaper].
After my three-quarters of an hour of metro to reach the Porte de Clignancourt, bus 255 is about to leave without me. I rush on, validate my ticket in a hurry, and push toward the middle of the crowded bus. I am looking distractedly out of the window when a man about thirty, shaven head, in a hooded black sweatshirt and baggy pants, comes up to me and shows me his wallet opened to an I.D. card that I don't have time to check out. His gesture makes me think of cops on TV shows.
Is it a raid by the drug police? I don't have much time to think about it. In a low voice, he whispers, "Contrôle des billets s'il vous plaît." A little disappointed, I give him my ticket and he tears it before giving it back to me. I don't know if I should laugh, wondering if it's not a joke, when I see right next to him the same odd specimen. He also is proceeding with a very discreet contrôle of the passengers. I lift my head and realize that in fact there are four of them in the bus doing the same thing. Their mission: not to be seen by the cheaters.
As for me, I would have stayed with the contrôleurs in uniform. Maybe less discreet, but more reassuring.