Today is Friday. Today we’re celebrating the time-honoured Italian tradition of the sciopero (strike). I arrived at work this morning 3 and a half hours before I needed to. Because I had to catch a strike bus. The thing is, a strike in Italy doesn’t have the same “Fuck You!” vindictiveness of a strike in North America (or Canada anyway. Can they still strike in the US?) There is just not the same “there is no other option” desperation. If something isn’t sitting right with the union they just take the day off. Just to let you know they can, and just to let you know how much it sucks that they can.
However, for a transit strike they still run the buses from daybreak until 8:30 in the morning, then they start them up again at 5:00. It seems to me a strange way to strike, but it seems a quintessentially Italian way of handling a disagreement.
When I fight with my girlfriend, or when I see an argument, it is usually over something small (I’d say petty). It involves yelling, gesticulating and drama. And then it’s over. To me it makes me feel confused and attacked if it’s with my girlfriend, or embarrassed if I see it in the street. But for them it’s just letting off some steam, dealing with a single solitary issue while it’s out in the open, and then it’s done. It’s like the one day 8 hour strike.
However in Canada, as Chiara goes to pains to point out, we fight differently. If something bothers us we ignore it, sit on it and pretend it doesn’t bother us until it really becomes a problem, then we freak out and it becomes a big problem entangled with other issues. It’s like how a teachers or nurses dispute can accelerate from negotiations to ignition, explosion and then a strike that stretches out for weeks.
the Italian way seems much more civilized. The doses of conflict and drama spice up the daily life and slays issues before they become something more that they should be. Not that I’m happy about the strike, or being here in the Vatican with 3 and a half hours to kill.