Oct 25, 2007
True story 1:
You are waiting for your train and it's not showing up when it's supposed to (highly unusal at the SNCF). You are being informed that it is going to be late (after you've figured that out on your own), maybe 20 min late. MAYBE. Then you wait some more until they decide to give you a bit more information: the train will not show up. Nope, no train for you. And that's just the end of it. And oh well if you have a connection, a plane to catch or another train, over there where you are supposed to be heading to.
True story 2:
My friend calls the train station to add a third passenger -her 10 year old son- to her ticket. The railroad agent tells her she would not be able to sell her a ticket with a seat next to hers. So my friend asks for a ticket anyway and says that she'll manage on her own, when the time comes, to sit next to her son. To this the agent replies that she could not sell her a ticket because 10 year olds can not travel unaccompanied. WTF*. My friend says thank you and good bye and gets off the phone. She goes to the train station the next day, saturday, but it's so crowded that she decides to turn around and come back on sunday. Sunday morning's quiet at the train station, there are four agents at the counters and two customers in line. WOW. What kind of ratio is that? It is a highly unusual SNCF-ratio. The average is more like two agents for 25 customers. Anyway no complaint here because for once you are not going to be waiting... at the counter the agent informs my friend that she can not sell her any tickets because she's only selling for today's departures and tomorrow's. My friend wants to drop bombs. [I do believe that anyone who has once dealt with some kind of French bureaucratic governmental office has at some point wanted to drop bombs-i have.] She goes back home and calls the train station again and talks to an agent who gives her what she wants within 5 minutes.
when you come visit France my friends, arm yourself with patience.
SNCF employees go on strike so that they can keep their retirement age at 55 (50 for the train engineers) -an age that was justified when trains needed coal to move forward- while their average hours of work/week is 25.
[i'd be so bored working there that i, as well, would probably go on strike to make sure i'm out of there sooner than later.]
*WTF: What The Fuck.