January 3, 2012

Lisbon. November, 2010

A general strike was slated to hit the city a few days after we left. And for the few days that we were there, we saw signs for the strike everywhere. Cars with loudspeakers mounted on their roofs, broadcasting pleas for support. When I asked our cab driver on the way to the airport if the strike would include him, he said, “Everyone.” Stores, trains, buses, cabs, restaurants, bars, everyone. (He also told us that “your Barack Obama” was scheduled to arrive the following day along with the other heads of state for the World Economic Summit. I’m sure they hotfooted it out of town before any inconveniences began.) My only other brushes with European job actions were in France in 1972 when I’d arrived at Fountainebleau only to find it closed, its staff “en greve.” And in Agrigento in 1984, when I’d bought enough excellent local produce in the small Sicilian town to get me through the next day’s sciopero. I needn’t have worried. That strike was pretty casual with bars and restaurants remaining fully in operation...but with their door grates only open halfway.

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