19 March 2009

La Greve

We've only been in France 3 weeks, and already, our first strike! The French live for going on strike. This was a Greve Generale, which took place all over the country, as best as I can tell was to protest to Sarkozy that no one is making enough money with La Crise going on.

I was warned by coworkers that there would be massive disruption; my closest colleague would take the day off since his daughter's school would be closed, that all mass transit would cease, and 100,000s would protest in the streets of Paris. The workers have to make advance anouncements to go on strike, so everyone gets to plan ahead.

As the day approached, the story was that in fact the Metro would run, a little bit. On my way to work yesterday, I saw a schedule in the RER station of the trains that would run, and the Paris Metro [newspaper- just like Philadelphia, but in French] said that the Metro [subway] would be at about 30% service.

Last weekend I had been scoping out possible bike routes if I was going to have to ride to work (probably easily doable, but tricky to figure out how to cross the Seine and avoid the major highways that are the route for car traffic), but was concerned about bringing my bike to work and into the building after my near-knockdown-drag out with security last summer at my Collegeville worksite over bringing my bike inside.

So I decided to chance it and take the Metro. I got up early, anticipating a long commute. I charged my iPod, brought a New Yorker, I was set to have to WAIT. I got to the Rue de la Pompe station, I had just missed a train, and the next one would arrive in.... 3 minutes. Not crowded, I got to Franklin D. Roosevelt just fine. Switched to the 1 line to La Defense, again pretty quick connection, not too crowded. Here we had a little difficulty- the train was slower than normal, and stopped a few times between stations. The station at La Defense was notably less crowded than usual, as was the plaza. I got to work in about 10 minutes more than usual, but given that I had left so early, about 15 minutes before I usually show up.

There were a few absences, but for the most part people were there, life went on. No problems at all getting home either.

The 40 day SEPTA strike of 1998, now that was a strike...

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