Friday, January 28, 2011

When Machines Go On Strike

Today I drove across town to a friend’s house. Throughout Marseille, there is available parallel parking (often on sidewalks), when you can find a spot, marked “payant”. This means that you must pay for parking. After wiggling your car into a spot that’s probably too small, bumping the car in front of and behind you a few times, and wishing for a second you had a smartcar (then remembering just how ridiculous they are), you must find a meter to pay for parking. Every block or so there’s a machine marked with a blue P where one can deposit coins and retrieve a small piece of paper authorizing parking for a specified amount of time. That paper, once deposited on your dash, assures you will not be towed. Unless of course there’s a market about to take over the sidewalk.

Back to today’s story...
I parked and I walked to the machine. But when I tried to put coins in, they wouldn’t go. Curious, I pushed a button. Up on the digital screen popped the words en grève. I laughed. The parking meter had just told me that it’s on strike. It could have said en panne, meaning ‘out of order/broken’, but instead it chose ‘on strike’.

What exactly prompts a parking meter to go on strike? Not enough vacation time? Are working conditions not up to par? The 2-hour lunch break not sufficiently long? Too much dog poo nearby?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A parking meter has aspirations too, just like humans. It sees humans every day, but they never stop to talk or pay their respects. So this meter was just trying to cry out for help. Just a little attention. He wanted to "meet her", that's all.

Love, Tim