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?