There is a gas strike beginning tonight at 10pm. Italians are genius at their strikes. I'm not quite sure what they are unhappy about, but for this strike, they have announced that no gas will be available from 10pm tonight through Friday night. As a side note, Italians do not have unions that will pay them when they strike, so a strike means no pay. When the transportation workers strike, they pick the time of day to strike. For example, the air traffic controllers may strike from 8am-noon, pilots will strike from noon-5pm, and some other group will strike from 5pm-midnight...or some such schedule. In this way, they can completely halt all air traffic for the day while still getting a half day's pay. See...genius.
Because of this upcoming strike, we were hot under our collars to get our car out of "jail" today in time to get a fill up. When you ship a car overseas, it must have virtually no gas in it. We shipped our car way back in July in order to have it here as soon as we arrived. This has proven to be a good idea since the base where we temporarily live is out in the country, and public transportation into Naples takes approximately 1.5 hours. Driving time is only half an hour, but public transportation is via bus, then train, then bus again.
In order to get our car, conveniently located right here on this base behind a locked fence, we had to go through a two hour Safety / Driving brief, which taught us the actual rules coupled with discussion on how Neapolitans ignore most of them. Then time for the driving exam on road signs. Sadly, "no french horns" was not one of the multiple choice answers for the sign in my previous blog. We were allowed to miss two questions on the 88 question exam. I made 100% on my exam. Nathan missed two. I have to include this information b/c the reality is that Nathan will be a much better driver here than me, so I have to take my kudos where I can get them.
We then raced over to the on-base DMV office to get the AFI (Armed Forces Italy) plates, get our car insurance restarted for Italy, and get registration, then Nathan ran to the "fence" to liberate the car while I ran to the Exchange (dept. store) to get our gas coupons. (Yet another side note, the Italian government puts a very high tax on gas. The govt has allowed the U.S. govt to sell us a set amount of tax-free gas rations each month). Nathan ran out quickly in the afternoon to get a gas fill-up, so we could have a little freedom despite the gas strike! Yay! And we've just heard of a restaurant nearby with decent food, so now we can get to it.
Finally, I forgot to let you all know that yesterday's briefs included the very important "What to do if Mt. Vesuvius erupts and does not kill you instantly." The military disguised the title by calling it "Emergency Management." You will all be glad to know that Mt. Vesuvius's threat level is at Basic, which is the bottom of four possible levels, and it has been at Basic for the last 10 years. Furthermore, there is now monitoring which provides an early warning, so theoretically, we would have time to evacuate. As this was second on my concern list, next to our housing, yesterday was all around a successful day. And getting our car AND gasoline made today pretty great, too! The Volvo will arrive in about 6 weeks, but I'm on the hunt for a cheap little (very, very, very little) car called the Cinquecento for around town. Here's a photo, and if I can find the outfit this lady is wearing, all the better...