Monday, November 19, 2007

les grèves cont…

The strikes are still going on and the Parisians are getting irritable…ok, more irritable than usual. Even though the bus trip to the office this morning took 3x longer than normal, I had a seat and there was a passenger who made the rest of us laugh. He kept calling the driver and anyone else he spoke to “cousin”. “Vas-y cousin, avance!” “Tu descends cousin?” “C’est bon cousin, ferme la porte.”

The trip home this evening, however, was less than amusing. A colleague and I left early trying to try to beat the rush hour - an idea that didn’t quite work out as planned. We were able to squeeze onto the crowded bus and after 30 or so minutes of tortoise pace traffic, the driver encountered a car that wasn’t far enough to the left. He yelled out the window a few times and eventually the car moved over, but not enough for Mr. Chauffeur’s liking. The bus moves forward and we hear the unmistakable crunch of one vehicle hitting another. The crazy thing is that the driver seemed to have hit the car on purpose, to make a point.

Well that was it. With that little crunch, restraint went out the window. One passenger starts yelling at the driver about how they (RATP, SNCF etc.) are annoying us all with this ongoing strike. An elderly lady yells at this passenger that they have the right to strike. “C’est constitutionnelle!” The bus driver and the car driver are screaming at each other. And pretty soon many of the passengers are bellowing at I have no idea whom. The driver opens the doors to let people off and announces that he is obliged to wait for the police. So now not only has he pissed off the car driver and all of the passengers on board, but all of the bus drivers and passengers who are behind him, because he’s blocking the bus lane!

After this lovely voyage I walked home since I didn’t have the energy or patience to fight with aggressive Parisians to force my way onto the metro. It took me 40 minutes to get home, but the nice thing is that part of the walk was through picturesque Montmartre. The strikes are supposed to go through Wednesday…If today was any indication, people may soon become violent. Bienvenue à Paris and watch out for any irritated Parisians wielding baguettes!

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