Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just Try and "Fill It Up!"

I received a phone call this evening from one of our office staff saying that our principal, who is, by the way, out of town, activated the Emergency Phone Tree. When I asked her what the emergency was, she said, "Fill up your gas tank." (Point of humor: We don't HAVE an Emergency Phone Tree this school year due to our "Xtrem School Makeover" in administration and office staff. Hahahahaha!)

Nonetheless, I took the message seriously and replied that luckily I had filled up yesterday and was good for at least 350 miles in the Mini on 40 liters.

Why the emergency? We got this message yesterday at school:

"Sent: Monday, December 10, 2007 11:51 AM
To: M-SI-All Hands-GD
Subject: Truck drivers' strike hits Italy
Importance: High
PAO (Public Affairs Office) has just received word that Italian truck drivers have begun a five-day truck strike against high fuel costs. In Sicily, strikers are blocking all trucks trying to embark ferryboats at the Messina and Palermo ports, forcing motorists to slow down. The strike is also preventing cargo from being delivered at the Catania port. According to Catania police officials, trucks are also currently lined up at the San Gregorio tollbooth (A-18 Catania Messina highway). Truckers have also announced that they will set up blockades at other key points across the island."

My friend Kendra, who usually comes to school on A-18, had reported yesterday morning that truckers were blocking the toll booths. She has already begun an alternate, non-autostrada, route to and from work over the volcano.

On my way home this evening, I passed about six gas stations, and all but one were already closed, probably out of fuel. The one that was open had at least twenty-five cars lined up to get gas at their one little pump. That's where I was yesterday, thank heavens.

What's the problem? Truckers are protesting the high price of gas. Italians are always striking, but this seems to be the first serious one I've witnessed in 3.5 years on the island. They should protest--I don't know what diesel costs (it's cheaper than gasoline), but regular gas for Italians is now $7.50 a gallon! Of course, that's computed on the value of the rapidly declining dollar. But even we government-employed civilians using gas coupons purchased on base have to pay $3.75 a gallon now!

None of this seems to stop or slow down the Sicilian drivers who still race around like crazy, passing everyone and everything in sight. Perhaps they'll all be reduced to Vespas eventually. Sicily will once again be the island of the bees.


At December 12, 2007 4:02 PM, Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Maryann...
These strikers seem to mean business. Those one day strikes never amount to much. We aren't going anywhere so it doesn't affect us much. Lots of fresh veggies here in town. Glad you got a heads up with the gas.



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