In most countries, people check the weather forecast before leaving the house.
They may also check traffic. Or, with skyrocketing gas costs, prices at the pump.
In Italy, people check the strike-o-meter, or scioperometro, a strike forecast published on the Internet.
Italians, with strong union representation, are some of the most active strikers in all of Europe. They are fourth with an average of 113 days lost per 1,000 workers in protests.
As a freelancer who usually works from home, they don’t affect me that much. But the law of travel in the Bel Paese states that if you have to go anywhere, especially from one city to another, more than once in a month you’ll get nailed by some sort of transport strike.
Often they pass for civilized – called and announced well in advance and only for a few hours – but if you get caught in one, it is a real nightmare.
I’m still working through the scars from being stranded at Malpensa airport for seven hours in an attempt to get to Budapest. The strike per se only lasted two hours. Unfortunately, the only other flight to Budapest was five hours after that.
Malpensa (whose name aptly translates into “bad thought”) has to be one of the biggest, emptiest, cruddiest airports around.
Almost everything (including restaurants, clothes shops, food shops, most newsstands and the spa) had shuttered on a Saturday afternoon. Opting to take refuge at Burger King nursing a Moretti beer was preferable to hanging out at either the pharmacy or the chapel. Even worse? If I had checked beforehand, I could’ve booked directly on the next flight.
The genius behind the strike-o-meter is that it groups all the strikes into one national calendar, so you don’t get caught out by some small union paralyzing traffic in Rome.
Here’s this month’s forecast:
Airport personnel strike in Milan, noon to 4 p.m.
24 hour national train strike
National airport personnel strike, noon to four except in Rome, 10-6 p.m.
Alitalia pilot strike, 10-6p.m.
You have been warned.