|Singer-songwriter Sian Pottock at her RATP audition.|
Sitting in the basement of the RATP building, Paris’s urban transportation headquarters, I was tapping my foot along with the young girl who was crooning along with her guitar. Next on stage was a Cuban salsa band, followed by a blues singer with an American accent that gave him away immediately. As the jury looked on, it felt like an episode of The Voice, and not an audition to play in one of Paris’s largest theaters…
You get on the metro. And then it happens. You’re on your way to work, probably with your earphones in, and that man you know oh so well boards the train.
“Mesdames et messieurs…” he begins, and then the music starts. It’s an accordion, maybe violin, or God forbid a trumpet, but the scene is always the same. They play some music for a stop or two and then ask for money.
“But I didn’t ask you to play that music,” you think to yourself, narrowly avoiding eye contact as the musicians pass by with their paper cup or hat.
As you recover from the blaring trumpet, returning to your Beyoncé or Céline Dion (no judgement), you don’t even entertain the idea of paying him.