I’m reminded of a few lines in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Hedwig is commenting about the day after his sex change operation.
“I woke up the next morning
And I was bleeding down there.
My first day as a woman
And it was already that time of the month”
It’s my first week as a Parisian and I have my first major transit strike. I woke up this morning with some dread. My friend Jim in California called and let me know that it was supposed to be 0 degrees outside. I’m looking at freezing weather and a 11 km walk. How bad could it really be?
The journey begins
I had planned my route in advance, I wanted a simple journey that I recognized. I also wanted to avoid too many busy intersections. So, I set off with almost a straight shot from my apartment on the far east side of Paris to the Yahoo! office on the far west side of Paris. Yes, I’m walking across the city.
This sounds daunting for a California boy. Heck, we get into a car to drive around the corner. It would take a day to walk across San Diego and a week to walk across Los Angeles. Well, two days walking and 5 days recovering. But Paris is a much smaller, dense city and it’s not really that bad. My walk is going to be about 7 miles. I can do this.
Should I stay or should I go?
I keep walking by metro stops and watching people exit them. I know the busses have stopped, but have the trains really stopped? I rode one last night well after the announced stopping time.
I have to say, there were two reasons why I didn’t go down into the metro to see if the trains were running.
- I wanted to really experience my first transit strike. Taking a metro would have been cheating.
- I was afraid I’d have to climb steps to get out of the metro station after the fruitless journey.
I think #2 was more a deciding factor. I needed to save my legs and the back of my mind knew that if the metros were running, the streets would not have been full.
Why don’t I have a bike?
Paris recently introduced 20,000 bikes to be used for free. Unfortunately you need a pass to use them and the procedure to get one is unbelievably stupid. I wont’ go into it now, but lets just say that I don’t have a velib pass yet.
However, there were plenty of bikes available and plenty of people using them. I did see some Velib stations in the center of Paris that were full and people were not able to return their bikes to the docking stations. They waited in line for someone to leave with one of the docked bikes.
I celebrated my first transit strike with a Pain Chocolate, or croissant filled with chocolate. It was damn good. I washed it down with a coffee while walking, no time to rest for the weary.
Thank god for Starbucks. I really needed a huge cup of hot coffee after walking for two hours. I didn’t want a cute little cup of espresso. I wanted a gallon of black death, with cream and sugar of course. While waiting for my coffee, I noticed the most god awful outfit on a mannequin. I don’t even think the Gotti brats would be seen wearing something this tacky.
It took me 2 ½ hours to walk to work. I felt fine, it was all flat land. I could do this again, although a 5 hour commute to work is pretty crazy. I’m going to buy a scooter tonight to make it much easier. I’m not going to carry my laptop home and I’m going to thank Heidi again for sending me some super comfy and warm socks from Alaska.