In Argentina they have a thing called the “Piqueteros”. Wikipedia defines it as : ‘The word piquetero is a neologism in the Spanish of Argentina. It comes from piquete (in English, “picket”), that is, its specific meaning as a standing or walking demonstration of protest in a significant spot.’
In Buenos Aires they are famous (or rather, infamous) because whenever you have to cross town you might come across them, personally or in the shape of huge traffic problems. Mostly it doesn’t seem to make much sense : most people don’t have a clue why the workers actually go on the street, chanting, waving with flags and beating the drums, against what exactly they are protesting. But mostly Porteños, or Argentines in general, think they are the only people in the world suffering from pointless protesting that only annoys people that have nothing to do with it.
Not! Tomorrow, for the 7th time this year (seventh) (and yes, the year is not even 5 months old), the Belgian train conductors are going on strike, again. Hundred thousands of passengers will not get to work or will take the car (which will cause huge road saturations, traffic jams even longer then usual), students do not reach school, etc. Nobody knows why. Usually strikers in Belgium spend the day at home, an extra -paid- day off always comes in handy, and can not count on a lot of sympathy. In this case, apart from the NMBS (the train company) it are mostly just the many people that take trains daily who are the victims.
Or people that occasionally take the train, like when they are going on a holiday and their flight leaves around rush hour, like, let’s say, our daugther. Impossible to get to the airport on time by car. 1 hour easily becomes 2 and if you are unlucky you are stuck in traffic for 3 hours and arrive just in time at the airport to see your plane take off before you. On a normal day. How will it be on a strike day? Thanks to this particular strike we will be getting up at an ungodly hour to drive her to Brussels and be in time.
For in time she must be, if you know what has happened in Belgium today. Hundreds of flights to and from whatever airport in Belgium were canceled, because the Belgian air traffic control Belgocontrol, had a power cut, a power cut, that lasted all day! For a whole day not one plane (except the ones flying at a very high altitude) could fly over this little country. Imagine the amounts of detours made, the amount of people being ‘shipped’ to Belgium from neighboring countries by bus, the trip by bus taking twice as long as the original flight time. Imagine the people waiting to be rebooked on next -already full- flights. Imagine the delays on flights that had nothing to do with Belgium in the first place, except that they had to cross/fly over it. It will take days until things are back to normal, until everyone is on the spot where they should have been now.
But as long as my daughter reaches her destination tomorrow, which I am confident she will, the only damage done to me, is that I can take over long sold-out theatre tickets of a friend who got stranded in Spain because of this power cut. She was supposed to be home today, bus has been rebooked on a flight on Saturday (that is, in 3 days!). Thanks to the Belgocontrol incompetence (what else can it be?) we will enjoy a good night’s out…
It’s an ill wind that blows no good.
(ps Kathy, I hope you get home soon!)