Typical Paris scene this morning. A huge double-remorque truck blocks the street, parking in the middle. The men are unloading it up a ramp into an apartment building nearby where some Arab billionaire has been renovating his penthouse for what seems like a year. Of course they are not supposed to block the street-- they have blocked off five or six parking places for their travaux for many months. But those places are all full of bins, and other people had parked in the spaces for the truck. Parking even in our not-central Paris neighborhood has become hellish in recent years, since that month-long strike at Christmas in 1995 when everyone bought cars. I once found our gardienne in tears because she had spent two hours looking for a place to park her car overnight. I pay about €180 a month to park mine nearby and it feels well worth it.
Traffic started to pile up behind the truck, but the men continued tranquilly to unload. "Je travaille, moi!" No one honked. The drivers waited patiently for a while. A motorcycle rider who couldn't get past the very wide truck vroomed up on the narrow sidewalk and rode toward a couple of old ladies and three little kids. As if he had received a blow, he suddenly braked, jumped off and began to walk the moto. "He must realize there are old people!" I thought.
But that was not the reason for his sudden consideration. He had just noticed that the first car in the line of cars was an unmarked police car. One of the cops, a tall skinny kid, walked menacingly toward him. Too late for him! A plumpish policewoman stood near the truck on her cell phone, gesturing angrily to someone I couldn't see. Someone had taken the legal parking places that had been set aside for the truck, and the workers had heavy things to deliver, so what were they supposed to do?
In these circumstances, the Parisian driver is fairly understanding. It was clear the truck was not going anywhere. In rather orderly fashion, the cars one after another reversed all the way back up the street and went on their way.