Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anybody Know How to Drive a Paris Subway Train?

Jeez, France, it's always something. Two years ago, immediately previous to my trip there with fellow Bootie DJs Adrian & Mysterious D, Paris had erupted in riots after the deaths of two teenagers being chased by police in an eastern suburb. The city was still under a travel advisory when we got there -- they had even warned against taking the aiport RER train into the city, since it passed through some of the affected suburbs and people had been throwing stuff at the cars. Thankfully, of course, things had calmed down by the time we arrived, but this year, there is another, perhaps more serious threat to my trip, one even more traditionally French than riots: strikes!

French transit workers went on strike last night to protest, if you can believe it, the potential elimination of the special retirement category that allows certain public service workers the right to stop working at age 50. 50! As in, Sally O'Malley "I'm fiffftyyyy!" As in, if I was a transit worker and not a DJ, I could retire in 13 years, from my still-incredibly-youthful-and-good-looking 37! The strike is affecting both long-distance trains and the local Paris subway and commuter trains, all of which I was, um, planning on taking in about two weeks. I'm flying into Paris after Bootie Munich, so I can get there, but then Zebra, Moule and I were planning on taking the train to Bordeaux to start the all-France mega-tour, and continue utilizing ground-based transport for the duration, so, I dunno, if the strike continues, I guess we'll all have to rent motorcycles?

I'm usually a supporter of labor (you go, Writers Guild, get those residuals!) and I'm of course no fan of Sarko, whose insistence on labor reform was a big part of his platform, but come on, people! Do you have any idea how bad it is in the rest of the world? Try getting a doctor's appointment on the CBS health plan, that'll make the extra 5 years of driving the subway look like a walk in the park.

Anyway, with my arrival in France still two weeks away, hopefully things will all get worked out before I get there. And maybe during the negotiations they could also take care of that whole different-price-for-coffee-if-you-sit-down thing?


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