“We have a new baby. I can’t just strike for days and days.”
This ride to the airport was at an inauspicious time, and I’ll explain why. Labor unions are very strong in France, and there are strikes very often. In my time in France, I’ve experienced air traffic controller strikes, baggage handler strikes, metro train strikes (multiple) teacher strikes, pilot strikes, flight attendant strikes, nurse and doctor strikes, and my favorite: Student strikes. I’m a believer in collective bargaining, and I think that worker rights should be championed, but strikes shouldn’t be an everyday affair. They can be crippling not only to business and the economy, but to ordinary people just trying to live their every-day lives.
Enough pontificating. No one is here to listen to me.
Anyway, I had forgotten to schedule a Blacklane ride, so Uber it was. Normally, this would not be a problem, although I did notice a scarcity of drivers. I waited it out. Finally, Fathi arrived, and told me about the Uber driver strike.
Fathi was a tough looking guy who looked like he could have starred in a hip hop video. He was also a scab–a strikebreaker, working when everyone else was on strike.
“I have to,” he explained without me asking, as if I was going to blame him for getting me on time to the airport. “My wife and I, we have a new baby. I can’t just strike for days and days. Everyone makes good money doing this.”
He then spent a lot of time on the phone trying to get the best route to the airport that wasn’t being blocked by other drivers picketing.
“If it’s blocked, you might have to take the shuttle,” he said apologetically, in between talking to his contacts on the phone. Apparently, the day before, they had cut off the main roads leading to popular spots (airports, train stations etc.)
“I was driving a passenger to his home in Neuilly sur Seine, and they came running at the car with large sticks! I saw they had destroyed another car by the side of the road!”
“How did they know you were a driver?” I asked.
He scoffed. “They know. They know me.”
He was on the phone again. Apparently, the route he was taking was clear, so it was a go.
We settled in after that. I was paranoid, but if I was, Fathi was a hundred times worse, nervously glancing to his left and right. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare; I hope he didn’t get into any trouble on the way back.
About the artist
Iris Hopp loves traveling and exploring the world. Her illustrations here will help you travel to the world of “Riding Up Front!”