So it's 2012 already. Ouch! The older I get the shorter the years seem to get.
With a new year that's barely begun, I'll dip into the end of last year for my first item: a strike. Yawn... You're right, but this one produced a surprising reaction from the government. The security personnel at airports nationwide decided to strike just before Christmas, which caused the cancellation of numerous flights and the delay of others. This is the busiest air-travel time within France when families gather for Christmas holidays, and the disturbance was keenly felt in those long lines that formed at airport counters. Yet, as so often before, I found the French extremely tolerant and few of them took their anger out on the strikers whose right to strike is sacrosanct even though their timing was not much appreciated. After a few days, the government sent in the gendarmes to take over the security checks and things returned to normal. Explained president Sarkozy on television: "It is unacceptable that strikers take the French people hostage at a time of holidays when families get together." Of course, I remember many strikes against cutbacks in education or in health care, or even among judges and lawyers who took to the streets against government encroachment on their independence -- all well justified and widely supported despite the discomfort they caused -- but never before had a president declared this "hostage taking" unacceptable. Then again, that was not during a family holiday and not just before a presidential election...
|Airport security agents on strike|
|... and Nice|
|El Gordo winners|
MUCEM in Marseilles
(*) To read a special chapter on Marseilles in Taking Root in Provence, click here.