As some of you know there is a rather large grève going on in France right now. Public transportation has been hit completely as the transport workers are trying to negotiate with our president, Sarkozy, not to take away their early retirement benefits. If that isn't enough, EDF et GDF (Electricity and Gas) de France have also gone on strike to support the transportation grievances. And to top it off, the students are striking as well. In support for the transit workers and also to voice their opposition to privatizing their schools.
Since "my office" happens to be in the comfort of my home. The transportation strike hasn't really affected me much. Unlike the 2006 CPE strikes by the students that had me on the train to work for up to 4 hours a day and I would pass bombed out cars and see kids looting in the streets on my way to work. Today, I use heavily the line 14, the only completely automated line, in Paris and the buses. I usually take the 14 into the center and walk to wherever I need to go with Max in tow.
If EDF and GDF decide to start doing selective blackouts like they have threatened, maybe they will shut down power in my neighborhood. I'd light a candle and be okay, I think. It would get cold in our apt but we'd have a lot of cuddling going on and we have plenty of conserve (confit de canard, La Reveuse!) that we could crack into.
I am no longer a student. So, getting to class is not my main priority these days. I have sentimental memories of the student strikes in 1995 and 1998 as I was a student in France during both of those periods. I remember my Fac being closed for two weeks straight in 1998. The doors barred and students blocking the way in. Everyday, my foreign friends and I would trek to school to have the French students tell us to go home because they were not going to let us in. I was worried about failing my semester that year but some how we made it through. I remember talking with my French classmates and being touched at how emotional they were about the student reforms. And thinking I've never even had to think about anything like this in my life. It really opened my eyes.
But as I type this I am home alone. My husband is staying at his mother's apartment which happens to be three RER stops from where he works on the opposite side of Paris. To drive from our house to his office would take HOURS. Everyone is driving everywhere as there are NO TRAINS anywhere. You can't imagine the traffic jams all over Paris. This afternoon, I was in Chatelet-les-Halles, one of the biggest transport hubs in Paris, and it was eerie to be walking the halls ALONE. No one was there. I know how stressful my husband job is and supporting us has brought on added stress, though he'd never admit it. To avoid hours of wasted time sardined on the trains, I told him to go. Do what needs to be done and I will be alright.
So, here I am again eating dinner alone. Taking care of Maximilien alone and whispering my good nights to my husband on the telephone before heading to bed. The strike has come into my home, too. Some say this strike maybe as big as the strikes in 1995 which means it could last up to a month. I find it a pity that the French have to resolve themselves to striking to be heard. Before I moved to France I had never seen so much of this. I hope that Sarko is willing to entertain serious negotiations with the workers so that life can go back to normal as soon as possible. But most importantly, I want my husband to be able to get home so he can be with us again.