Friday, January 30, 2009


Striking and demonstrations are an integral piece of French culture that my American mind will never fully understand. Over the past five months of employment, I've received at least five e-mails from the university administration, asking me to please inform them if I plan on participating in the upcoming strike. "Sure, yeah, why the heck not? Sign me up. I'll take off the next three months please, if you don't mind."

As a salaried employee, my striking would probably be noticeable when my students showed up to an empty classroom. What I'll never get, however, are the scholarship students who go on strike. "As one of the privileged, fortunate elite who managed to get into this school, please stop paying me to receive an outstanding education. I protest!"

Anyway, strikes hit France yesterday on "Black Thursday." Brooklyn's teachers sent home notes a week in advance asking us to please keep our children at home because they would be protesting. The metro line that takes me to work also stopped functioning. (Fortunately, Lyon has a fabulous bike system where you can check out a "Velo V" bike for virtually nothing and return it to any one of the 343 stations around town.)

Apparently, strikes are most common in January and February. No wonder. Don't we all feel like protesting life in the gray of winter? What struck me as even more odd was how life resumed as completely normal today. The teachers were back with a smile, the public transport is up and running as usual, it is as if nothing ever happened.

So my question is, do people truly believe that a one-day strike makes much of a difference, or is it simply a way to vent some frustrations and take a much needed "mental health day." Oh, and by the way, I want to know when all of the Mommys get to go on strike--one day to escape all the responsibilities of dishes and diapers--because you can count me in! :)

When Jason was in Paris a week ago, he got out of a subway station and inadvertently stumbled into the middle of some major protests to the Israeli war. The pictures he took are quite something!


Tanja said...

Sorry - the pictures didn't show. I watch about the strike last night on TV and thought about you. Hope you will have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Kara, Jason, Buttermilk & Redi-Wip: You somehow corrected the photo links, they now show. Good work! Keep Smiling & Bye, Bye!