A Strike of Solidarity

Well it’s happened again. I’m behind on the October challenge. But only by a day. So here’s yesterday’s post, and I’ll get you today’s later today.

Two days ago, late at night, in Lyon, an SNCF controller was attacked and stabbed four times. The controller survived and is still hospitalized.

While I feel bad for his family and definitely for the man himself, this sort of thing is not world-ending news. At the risk of sounding cold and unfeeling, people are stabbed, shot and beaten every day, especially around huge cities.

The attack wasn’t part of a series of attacks. It wasn’t a serial killer targeting SNCF controllers because he doesn’t like the purple accents on their uniforms. It was just some lunatic flying off the handle and attacking someone. Not front page news.

Unless you’re the SNCF. Working for the SNCF has its perks. They’re known to have one of the best unions, and the union likes to go on strike. A lot. So, when one of their workers was stabbed, they nonsensically went on strike ‘to protest’.

I am confused about what they are protesting. Lunacy? But however confused I might have been about why or what they were protesting, French commuters were well aware of the fact that they were protesting something.

If your French is rusty, 'a l'heure' means 'on-time'. 'Retard Indetermine' means 'we've either misplaced this train or its driver'. And 'supprime' means 'f*** you, find another way there'.

Train stations across the country yesterday morning were filled with angry and stressed commuters as the skeleton crew working at each station struggled to coordinate trains and find drivers for the trains.

That picture there is in the Gare d’Arras on my way to work. The train I normally take had already been cancelled after sitting in ‘indefinite wait’ for a little bit. The one at the top? That’s the train I was then waiting for, just being deleted.

Further down the board, there’s a train to Lille Flandres. Flandres or Europe, I don’t care – I just needed to get to Lille. The office is less than a ten minute walk from either station. That train was cancelled too.

I ended up getting to work an hour late yesterday, at 10:00 a.m., despite having been in the train station since 7:30 a.m. I had no problem with the trains getting home as they seem to have thankfully sorted out their protest around noon.

However, having left home at 6:20 in the morning, and getting back home after 8 p.m., my mind was more on eating and going to bed than it was on blogging. But now I’ve slept, so here you go.

What do you think? Is the SNCF right to go on strike to protest an isolated crime? Am I a cruel, unfeeling bastard?


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