Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Yup, for once. I like to go swimming in the public pools of Paris. This started years ago when I was on Unemployment and discovered that this entitled me to free entry to any municipal pool in Paris. Vive la France! I’ve been a bit irregular lately, but I’m getting back into it, and Sunday morning is a must. Before I eat breakfast. No exceptions. However, the situation now is that the guys who staff the pool are on strike. Not every day, but from time to time when it hits them. Most people don’t even know why they’re on strike, but I do. You see, I have a tuyau (ie. pipeline) to the pool. One of my friends used to work there, and he told me how the higher ups, to reduce the budget, have decided to get rid of the people (mostly ladies) behind the cash register at reception and replace them with the guys who work the pool (basically sitting behind a counter although I’m told they also heat up the pool, add chlorine and make sure the levels are right). Anyway, they’re saying “NO WAY” to this order from on high with no discussion beforehand. I don’t blame them really.
Since I knew about the strike and how it was hitting each pool differently, on different days, and being a pre-planner from way back (my father was an engineer so I guess it’s in my genes) I photocopied a list of local pools and put them into the sac I bring with me to the pool. I also put in my cell phone and a Metro/bus pass – Ok, Ok, I’m a plan ahead freak. But what if I get locked out of my apartment on a Sunday morning when there’s no one with an extra key in the building to let me back in, and I have to go pick up the key?
I arrived at my local pool – about a 2 minute walk from my apartment – at 8 am Sunday morning when the pool is supposed to open. I had great hopes since the inside was brightly lit, indicating the guys were not on strike. Wrong. At exactly 8 (which is rare, they usually come out 5 to 10 min late to open the gate) out came one of the guys, José, to let us know that they were indeed on strike.
OK – plan ahead strategy up! As I walked toward the bus on a line that stops at 2 other pools in one direction and another in the opposite direction, I pulled out my cell phone plus the list of pool numbers , dialed pool no. 1 – the better one – and actually got through to a human being. Nope – they were on strike until noon. Too late – as inflexible me must swim before breakfast. By this time I was at the bus stop and –surprise of surprise – a bus was racing toward me from down the street (if you just miss a bus, you have to wait up to 20 min for the next one on a Sunday). I was so proud of myself as I got on the bus and validated my ticket at the same time that I was calling pool no. 2. This is definitely an intercultural skill that I have learned from living in France. Thinking that I’d get off who knows where if that didn’t work out. Surprise – on the bus I got through again to a human being – and they were open! Success – Réussite.
I learned to always plan ahead for last minute unexpected changes while I was researching my shopping guide Best Buys and Bargains in Paris . I must say it served me very well indeed Sunday morning.