15 November 2011

New Word: Sciopero

Last Sunday, there was an article in the newspaper about a pending gas station attendant strike

The word for strike is “sciopero”.

Now, since my reading skills are, um, lacking, I thought it said the strike would entail gas station attendants not working from 7pm Tuesday until until 7am Wednesday.  I often confuse Venerdi for Wednesday (and venti for seventy, when spoken to me, for that matter).  So, I thought the only place this would really matter is on the autostrada, where the stations are open and attended 24 hours a day.  Everywhere else, it’d be business as usual, as it were, as regular servizio  are typically closed during these hours.   If you need gas at this time, you just try to figure out the insane cash payment machine and do your thing.   In other words, I thought this one night strike would involve the majority of workers not working when they weren’t supposed to be.  Not much of a strike.

Of course, I mostly misunderstood the article about the strike.  It was really a three day strike, from 7pm Tuesday ‘til 7am Friday.  But l still didn’t get it.  I’d have the option of pumping my own gas during the strike.  It’s not like it’s New Jersey or anything.

I commented on what an ineffective way of striking it seemed.  The point is usually to inconvenience people to draw attention to a problem by refusing a service, like flying planes or driving buses or picking up garbage.  Not having someone to pump my gas isn't that big a deal.  I'd rather do it myself, anyway.  That’s when I learned of the “sciopero all’italiana”.

F. used the example of the dogana, or customs workers.  Normally, the dogana folks near the ports will stop every third or fourth truck or car to ensure that customs fees have been paid.  Unless there’s a sciopero all’italiana.  Then, they’ll stop every single vehicle, creating snarls of traffic for miles.

In other words, during an Italian-style strike, the people striking actually work more.  Their strike is one in which they prove that actually doing their jobs is more of an inconvenience.

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