So after a warm welcome at the airport and an amazing first night what was next? Phoning and faxing people in Zurich about the seminar. Then each morning Nelly was listening to the radio news and telling me that there's going to be a "big strike" with me thinking to myself "Ok, big strike. I can deal with that." What the hey, I've heard about a strike or two in US before.

  Little did I know about the love affair France has with strikes. And this wasn't any tiny, little strike by 5 cheese makers in some distant Province. This was 1995 and it was a big one by SNCF, the French national railway. Other unions were striking in symphony, like the Paris Metro system. That meant no trains to Switzerland let alone a Metro train across town. So much for that TGV ticket I bought ahead of time at AAA in Seattle. For now if I couldn't use it, then it was just a pretty piece of paper that held the promise of memories, properly aged to take the edge off to become quite amusing.
 
  My original idea was to spend some time with Nelly, see more of Paris, TGV my way to Zurich, teach the seminar and then return to Paris, eventually flying back home out of DeGaulle. But as things progressed the chances of actually getting on the high speed TGV sounded like, well… a real chance. They were running at about 30% of the regular schedule, the only problem being that no one knew exactly which train, at what time was running. So the idea was that you showed up at the station before the train you wanted to take, if it was there then maybe there was space. If it wasn't, then you had to haul all of your belongings back to where ever you had come from.

  Nelly and I went to the station to check about the trains and see if I could get a refund for my advance ticket. The stations in Paris are huge, massive affairs and seeing them utterly deserted except for 30 people is a little unnerving. I really felt for the guy who was in the French Army, his entire life in a duffle bag, who was looking at a schedule and who knew that he was stuck. I will say this though, if you're going to be stuck any where in the world, do what you can to be stuck in Paris.
     
   
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