Today I found out.

Location Brussels, morning rush hour, exiting the metro to allow other people behind to descend. In the commotion, my bag dropped between the metro wagon and the platform…

I waited it outside, and planned to jump on the lines to recuperate it. What stopped me were three things:

  • It did not fall just below, it hit one of the electricity orange lines and went under the platform itself. I would have had to bend next to the electricity line and I did not want to learn new experiences 🙂
  • I knew that the metro station was under supervision, and I did not want to justify my act to some security guys.
  • I knew from a TV documentary that actually, for security reasons, the electricity line next to the platform is disabled (in the stations) in case somebody falls down – and this gave me courage. However … while carefully looking at both the electricity line, the one that seemed in use was the one that was just under the platform, the barrier between me and my bag.

So I did the next big thing, that is … wait for the next metro and talk to the driver. A jolly old fellow, took a while to bend over and open the door, coughing; I told the story using my poor French, he listened then said “You can’t go down there, I can’t go down there, there’s a guy with an Orange jacket that will help you.” (while pointing his finger upwards). I asked – “So shall I go upstairs and try to find him ?” and he said “No, no, I will call him”.

A glimpse of hope 🙂 yeeey.

I think for 1-2 minutes, all people descending on the stairs were wondering why I stare at them. I was actually checking out which one of them is the guy in the orange jacket .. After a short while, I realized that even if I am in panic mode and believing others should act in panic mode too and get there ASAP, however there was actually nothing dramatic happening though, probably … it happened before and nobody rushes. To my surprise, the guys arrive very quickly after (Let’s say I did not wait more than 5 minutes). And BTW, the jacket was reflective green light, not orange. Duh.

Anyway, I explain again what happen, I show him the bag. I will now explain what happened next:

  • He calls the control center / supervisor. I understand his French, but I do not hear what the center says back to him. Dialog is over an intercom that is somewhere at the beginning of the metro station, where he went after I told what happened. I can tell that he is reporting the issue. My mind wonders … will I have to sign some papers, to justify, to explain what happen ? How long will it take now ?
  • After a short while I realize that he waits. I am thinking that maybe he waits for some sort of permission or something. It becomes clear that they have to cut off the electricity for him to be able to descend, but … when? Meanwhile, 2-3 more metros come then go …
  • Now he gets the reply. He can decide, when, just at that moment, an annoyed old lady complains to him that the the her card was taxed twice when descending to the metro. She was such in distress (probably the lonely crazy one, which has 5 dogs at home) and revolted, betrayed, eeeetc. Just my luck now… you have to treat everybody polite, no matter what your instincts tell. So that’s what the green jacket guy is doing for a couple of phrases, until he realizes that the woman is a bit of a whack… Then he excuses that he can’t wait anymore (the time frame for him was short too). The lady is shocked and turns to me trying to find somebody else to complain how badly she was just treated!! But I was turning away too, going after the green jacket guy.
  • He descends using some stairs in the beginning of the platform, walks proudly to where I told him the bag was (knowing probably that everybody looks at him), picks it up and rises it up to me.

That’s it! 15 minutes in total! I got my bag back! ID card, credit cards, phone …

The aftermath is that he went again to the intercom, and reported that all is ok. They restored the electricity back in the station, as there was already a metro train waiting (I could see it stopped 50 meters or so outside). I asked if I have to pay anything, he smiled at me and said no, it’s ok. He was very relaxed now, and so was I. And happy.

I like the way things work out in Belgium.

PS: all the ladies in the metro that saw me dropping the bag were like ‘Aaaa…’ – imaging themselves going through this. I think they were more scared than I do, why are the women so attached of their purses 😀 ?