Friday, January 27, 2012


Sciopero in Italian means strike - as in a labor union going "on strike." Such strikes seem still quite popular in Europe - much more so than in the U.S. today, where Labor Unions seem to be in terminal decline (except for Public Employees' Unions).

Today was supposed to be a strike day for the buses and trains, the strike being officially scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (or, as they say here, 8:30 to 1700). Assured by several others that the strike would safely be over in time for me to get a bus coming home from class this evening, I prepared myself to walk to class. As walks go, it is not that bad. Basically, you walk down the Via Nazionale to Piazza Venezia and then take the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II to the Tiber. Thankfully the Via Nazionale is downhill from here, and the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II is level. So it's an altogether manageable walk. Even so, I decided to carry only the bare essentials - textbook and notepaper - and to leave extra early.

So out I went. I was about three-quarters of the way down the Via Nazionale, when my bus passed me! So at the next bus stop, I stopped and waited, and sure enough another bus came! I boarded the bus and made it to the Urbaniana even earlier than usual! I spent some time in the University Bookstore perusing a volume on Concordatory law, then had my usual vending-machine coffee, and as further compensation a chocolate bar too! And, as anticipated, the trip back this evening was equally uneventful.

What to make of all this? In the U.S., a Public Employees' Strike (especially a Transit strike) typically evokes strong reactions - both by ideologues on the opposing sides and also by the more moderate majority that just resents being inconvenienced (especially by public "servants"). Here, however, it seems to produce little more than a shrug. A sciopero is just another nuisance - one of many - that one just has to put up with in the burdensome grind of daily life.

As a priest once said to me (and I have quoted many times before): "When you live in a foreign country, you should expect that some things will be different."

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