Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Italian Strikes Through The Looking Glass

I was going to lead with, "Except for walking, riding trains is the best part of travel. . . .". That was before the ticket seller at the Roma station told me that I could take the express to Firenze, but the local trains were on strike until 5 o'clock, so I would not be able to go on to Lucca until sometime after five.

Drat. Whacked again by the Italian transport unions' speciality, the non-rush-hour strike. So Italians are not inconvenienced. They're at work. The only victims are tourists who want to take a train at midday. But what do tourists have to do with these labor squabbles?

But sure enough when I got to Firenze a little before noon, the customer service desk told me to come back at five. Maybe I could hike downtown for a quick whirl around the sights? But before doing that, I went back to ask whether maybe a bus would be a better bet? This time I was told there was an express to Viareggio leaving in 7 minutes which stopped in Lucca. It wasn't on strike because it was an express that stopped at local stations. Not to be confused with a local that stopped at express stations.

A country that can demarcate the scope of its strikes with such precision, timewise and targetwise, surely deserves some award.