In the Cinquecento way – staying positive – I want to post my top five happy moments from the past 12-36 hours. However, the trucker’s strike here in Sicily is much more interesting; it dominated conversation at the office, with our landlord and on the airways. In fact, many happy moments are related to the Sicilian trucker’s strike, albeit in quite the roundabout way (punny for all the extra roundabouts I have gone through during the many detours I take to get home). So, sit back, snuggle in and laugh as you can at the ironies, the subtle miseries and the little victories.
(Uno) 1. Sciopero! (Strike!) A lovely opportunity to learn new words. This isn’t the first strike we’ve endured, but it is the first one to really force some lifestyle changes, which means everyone is talking about it, Sicilians included. Thus, in order to talk to them about the strike, I had to learn what to call it. Sciopero (say it “shap-air-roh” more or less).
(Due) 2. Camaraderie that comes from dealing with a small amount of strife. Recommendations on which route to take home, where the last open gas station is, offers for a place to stay (if we run out of bombola gas), and many more examples. It is reminiscent of the camaraderie that arises at the outset of a major snowstorm. It warms the heart.
(Tre) 3. Appreciating my commute. Driving an extra 30-60 minutes in order to avoid the truckers blocking the majority of the toll booth lanes. Our neighbor spent an hour waiting to get through the toll. We have taken three different routes the last three nights in order to avoid the traffic jam at the toll booth entrance. Today we found the best route – at the Pasei Etne exit for any Catanese reading. Whenever we return to the normal commute, it will be a relief.
(Quattro) 4. Discussing and thinking about First Amendment issues and how the courts have nearly completely gutted the first amendment capabilities in the U.S. The First Amendment isn’t just about saying whatever you want, it is also about freedom of assembly. Using the Supreme Court to address appropriate time, place and manner restrictions is the political end-run around the prohibition for Congress to pass such laws. It is a good compromise, but unfortunately, I think courts have caved to commercial interests over the power of assembly. This type of strike would never succeed in the U.S. because of these time, place and manner restrictions that have been strengthened over the years to the point that it has become part of our culture to put protesters in corners and boxes – a veritable karoke booth outside of the limelight.
(Cinque) 5. Sense of adventure! The strike is pervasive, reaching into the gas stations, the grocery stores, the bombola retailers (supplying the gas that heats our house, hot water, and clothes dryer), and did I mention the traffic jams? Working hard to stretch our resources just as far as we can lends a sense of adventure to our otherwise secure and stable lives. I don’t mean to make light of the people who chronically deal with similar problems, or those who don’t know whether they have a place to get warm every night; I just try to imagine the best way possible to put these inconveniences in their place.