Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Word Of The Week


This word applies to my experience yesterday. I drove, amid the rail strikes, to Paris to pick up Ken at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Quelle galère!

The primary meaning of galère is a type of sailing ship of old. Although they had masted sails, galères were often propelled by scores of rowers, typically criminals or slaves, chained to benches on either side of the ship. To be condemned to les galères was to be punished by being put into service as a rower on one of these ships, known in English as being sent to the galleys.

Later, les galères came to be known as any forced labor meted out in punishment.

These days, une galère is anything (especially work) that's a real pain in the ass. Like the traffic I encountered around Paris on my way to the airport yesterday. It was a crawl. I spent about two and half hours inching my way around the city from the A-10 in Massy, around the A-86 through Créteil, then up to the A-4 near Joinville. I might have walked it faster.

Once on the A-4 I was heading east, away from Paris, and the traffic dissipated. Then up to the A-3, the A-1, and on to Roissy, all at normal speed. I got there about 10:00 am, after having left my house at 5:00 am. Ken had just come out of customs when I got there (his flight was late), so it all worked out. And although going home again was a long ride (we went a different way), there was no serious traffic. We were glad to be home safe and warm again.

But that traffic! It reminded me of the San Francisco Bay Area. I imagine people fight with similar traffic on a daily basis. Not me. Quelle galère!

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  1. Glad Ken and you both made it safely to Mareuil. Callie must have been tremendoiusly happy to see Ken back.

  2. Ah oui, ça a été la galère !


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