Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Well, yesterday started off well enough. I filled out all the forms, sat for my photo (first one with grey locks), proved I still have adequate reflexes and eyesight and, within an hour, my driver's license was renewed for another six years. I was impressed by the smooth workings of our municipal offices. If only, there was a way to weed out drivers who think red lights aren't meant for them.

Checking my watch, I decided there was still time to go downtown to the electoral services office. I called first to check what papers to take and which metro station was closest. When I located the address, I felt a warning stab in my guts. No one around what should have been a busy office. Then I saw it. A large piece of brown paper posted on the front of the building painted with the words: SERVEL EN PARO. On strike. I couldn't believe it. When I rang a doorbell inside the gated entrance, a guard informed me the strike was declared at 10 a.m. that morning. I don't know when I've felt such fury and frustration. I yanked a pen out of my purse and wrote on their sign (in Spanish): "Why didn't you inform the public? What a wasted trip." I steamed and grumbled all the way home, while composing a letter to the newspaper in my head. (I've built up a sizable archive of unsent drafts over the years.) At home, I called SERVEL  and asked why, when I called in the morning, they didn't inform me. The operator answered, "We didn't know about the strike then." I sat at my computer and pounded out my complaint, sending a copy to the newspaper and to my congressman.

I probably would have done better chaining myself to SERVEL'S iron-wrought gate. My letter was not published in today's paper. I'm less upset now because I realize it's futile to direct anger at the "system". It's an impersonal entity. Today's paper said the strike in all public offices will last "indefinitely". I may not be able to vote in the run-offs. I've always considered it a privilege that I'm allowed to vote here without being a citizen.

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