STRIKE!

While the US Northeast is brought to a stand still by inclement weather of snow and ice,

London has been brought to its knees by a Tube strike.

When I lived in Florence, Italy many moons ago, a strike or sciopero was hardly newsworthy because it was so ordinary.

  • No letters today, the postal workers are on strike. 
  • Don’t bother with a shower, there’s no hot water as utilities are on strike. 
  • Sorry, the trains aren’t running this week. 
  • Oh, you thought the schedule was accurate…nope, the _______(fill-in-the-blank) is on strike. 

And on and on it went.  I never cared.  Somehow the whole dolce far niente thing, or sweetness of doing nothing, would override any frustration. Not so in London.

The city has been gridlocked as London Underground workers have gone on strike, angry over ticket office closures and job cuts.  As if on cue to add to the chaos, the London weather was unusually nasty during the strike, with persistent rain punctuated by gale force winds.

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To me, the Tube is one of the best things London has to offer.  It is clean, orderly, dependable, and a life-line to the city.  I have never felt the need to own a car in London.  In fact, it seemed like an unnecessary burden.  I know too many tales of cars being broken into, windows smashed, radios missing.  I rely on the Tube under ground and my own two feet above ground to get to wherever I please.

However, you can only go so far on your own two feet with a lame dog hobbling on a bum knee.

And so, I found myself standing in the rain (of course), battling an umbrella that kept popping inside out under the impact of forceful gusts, tugging on a leash, helplessly searching for a free cab which was basically non-existent during the strike.  Car services were so overloaded that their sites shut down (kind of like the first few days of Obamocare).  Buses were running but were overflowing, literally.  Resigned bus drivers drove past stops, hopelessly full of commuters crammed to the rafters within the double deckers.

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Here was my dilemma: Lucy had to get to the vet.  The 40 minute walk was out of the question for her.  I waited and watched several buses pass until I could finally board one.  All 40+ pounds of Lucy lay limp in my arms like a dead weight as I squeezed and maneuvered my way into a tiny pocket of space, literally trying not to jam Lu’s wet nose into an unsuspecting (and surely unappreciative) passenger.  With burning biceps and an aching back, we finally disembarked.  Wet and wilted, we fought our way through streets swarming with people, never an easy task with a dog who has always been a wayward trailblazer on a leash.  Needless to say, we arrived at the vet, much worse for the wear. The Tube is running today, but there are threats of repeating the strike next week.

I need to recapture my Italian perspective in which va tutto bene (all is well)…
and leave Lucy at home!

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