The French high-speed Ouigo train service may be seen as the “budget” TGV option, but a controller on one route is providing extra entertainment for free, by telling jokes to passengers on board.
Romain, a Ouigo train manager, told FranceInfo that when he first started his job, he felt nervous making train-wide announcements. He said: “For my first announcements, I was as stressed as could be. My voice shook, it was difficult.”
But now, his confidence has grown, and he manages not only the official safety announcements but also a raft of extra details, for a little unexpected humour.
- “Ladies and gentlemen, the pool and the jacuzzi on this train are sadly closed to the public”,
- “Ladies and gentlemen, there is neither a restaurant nor a bar on this train, we’re helping you to diet for this journey”
- “Ladies and gentlemen, for any passengers who had planned to get off at Miami, Honolulu, Hawaii, Bora-Bora, Bobo-Dioulasso and Ouagadougou, I can confirm that these stops are only made in my dreams."
- “Ladies and gentlemen, may I remind you that the expression to repeat throughout this voyage and day is ‘Hakuna Matata’”
- “Please take a label, the first is free, the second is on offer” (in reality, all labels are free)
- “Ladies and gentlemen, I am not a fortune teller, I do not know where you will go, but I do know that you will definitely pass in front of a bin, so please take all your rubbish there and do not leave it at your seats”
- “May I inform the passengers who have just joined us that the nightclub, dancing bar and solarium of this train, all on the fifth floor, are closed to the public”
- “Please don’t forget any of your belongings on the train, including your neighbour, if they’re part of your baggage”
Romain also says hello to a carriage of passengers when he enters, and repeats it if no-one says hello back. When they do, he says: “There you go, that’s already better.”
He explained that making customers smile makes him happy. He said: “I really enjoy it when travellers say ‘thank you’ to me for it.”
He said that once, he entered a carriage, and everyone started clapping for him. His colleague said that it was the first time he had seen that happen in more than 20 years working on the trains.
Romain, un contrôleur de train pas comme les autres… pic.twitter.com/8GZ0HMVBde— Brut FR (@brutofficiel) May 3, 2022
Romain's humour and positive attitude has also helped in some difficult situations.
He said: “Sometimes if voices have been raised, with one passenger, other passengers have stepped in to defend me, because really, behind all this, they know that I’m not here to annoy people. I’m just here to do my job.”
The controller even addresses some passengers by their first names. He said: “They’re usually surprised but it goes brilliantly in general. They’re happy, it’s as if I know them.”
Some passengers ask to take a photo with Romain as they disembark the train, which he accepts readily, and others ask if it is him who makes the jokes, before thanking him for his humour.
One passenger said: “It’s really great, it’s what you need, it’s good for the soul.”
Romain has also gained fame on social media due to passengers remarking on his comedy, and reads out a recent tweet: “What fun, the driver on the 7621 [service]”, before remarking, jokily: “Do they think it’s the driver who does the announcements?”