T he seasons are changing here in Paris.
The clouds have started to roll in, the French are now wearing two scarves, and most of the tourists have skipped town for the next few months.
And now, the time has come: It’s officially public transit strike season.
Although the system has been practicing nearly every day — with exponentially increasing service interruptions disguised as “grave accidents” — the first openly planned Metro strike is slated to begin.
The other day, my line , and the lines of a few of my friends, just… stopped — right in the heart of morning rush hour.
After finally getting to class (45 minutes late), we decided to make a list of things to do today (and probably the rest of this week, since worrying isn’t going to change anything).
Go for a walk
When public transportation isn’t an option and you can’t take a cab, walking is about the best way to go. Buy a baguette, pick a direction and go. Don’t pick a destination; don’t pay attention to street names, just go. Turn a corner with every piece of bread you tear off.
If you want to really spice things up, remember Paris has very loose open container laws — alternate between a piece of bread and a swig of wine (but keep it classy).
By the time you finish your chosen product of consumption, you will have made you way at least around your neighborhood, and maybe discovered something new along the way.
During a service interruption on the Metro, everyone is thinking the same set of thoughts: “Ugh, not again,” “At least I am only (x) stops away,” and “Oh my god what if this is like that movie where John Travolta has that terrible Fu Manchu moustache and we are being held hostage?”
During a service interruption on the Metro, everyone has the same facial expression: that of a man whose 15-year-old daughter is going on her first date. Eyes fixed, mouth in a very distinct frown (they even have a special term for it in French — faire la gueule), arms crossed, temples throbbing ever so slightly.
This in itself is amusing — and it’s just for a little service interruption. As inconvenient as the strike may be, I have to admit I’m a little excited to head over to the Montparnasse district, grab a seat at a café, and watch the men in fancy suits fight over the last remaining taxi headed out to La Defense.
Some people like rugby; I like businessman taxi-off.
Rake in the dough
Maybe it’s because I was raised in capitalist Amurrica, maybe it’s the entrepreneurial start-up Boulderite in me, but I really like thinking of random ways to make money.
In the event of a strike, start a betting pool as to when certain lines will close and when the Metro will open again.
If you’ve got extra adrenaline coursing through your veins after a few days of not being on the Metro, try to predict the order in which lines will close or open. With more than 15 lines in the Paris subway system, myriad combinations exist and everyone has the chance to be a winner!
This one is kind of self-explanatory.
Strikes are kind of hard to avoid, especially in Europe. With these few tips as my survival guide, something tells me I’m going to be okay.
Jessica Ryan is a junior media studies major at CU-Boulder. She writes about study abroad experiences once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.