October 25, 2010

La grève

After a three-month absence, France welcomed me back with a way only France could: strikes. For those of you who don’t know, France is on strike because of legislation to raise the retirement age.

My first full work day at the lycée, I arrived for a class at 10am and was scheduled to stay until 5pm in order to work out my schedule with my head teacher. The morning went over well, and then at 12 I followed my fellow professors into the cantine (cafeteria).

About halfway through lunch (meaning after 45 minutes because this is France), a woman I had yet to meet came up to the English prof I was eating with. Completely ignoring me, she started talking in very fast French.

Assuming it was something not concerning me, I made no effort to follow the conversation. All of a sudden I heard the words “…….il n’y aura pas de trains cet après-midi” (…there wont be any trains running this afternoon).

This caught my attention. I had been oblivious to the strike until that morning, when the train station was over crowded and every single train said “en retard durée indeterminée” (late: duration unknown). It didn’t end up affecting me as I had gotten to the train station plenty early, and managed to get a train to Lens without too much of a delay.

“Excusez-moi? Il n’y aura pas de trains cet après-midi? Pas du tout?” (Excuse me? There wont be any trains this afternoon? None at all?) I asked the stranger.

“Non, ils ont bloqué les voies ferrées. Il n’y aura pas de trains pour Lille pour le reste de la journée” (None. They have blocked off the train tracks so there won’t be any trains to Lille for the rest of the day) she informed me.

I looked at the English teacher, another Lille resident, and I asked her how we were going to get home. Apparently there are quite a few profs who live in Lille and commute by car to the lycée. Unfortunately for me, none of them were leaving when I was supposed to be done with school. I was worried if I would ever be able to get home, when the head teacher said to not worry about it and just skip out early with whichever teacher could take me back to Lille the latest.

The train schedule while the strikes were happening for 10/22/10

Being able to leave work an hour early, as well as catch a car ride back to chez FBF cutting my commute in half, is why I don’t mind so much that everything was closed down last week. It is so very French of them to be on strike, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Well done - hopefully the strike will end and the trains will run.


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