Friday, January 21, 2005

Today I am having what I would almost consider to be a typical day of work in an official French institute. That I have time to spend more than an hour in an internet café in the middle of the day is a result of it. Most of the files in the National Archives ( AN ) that are relevant for my research are sous dérogation, i.e. I can consult them but am not allowed to photocopy any part of them. I plan to come with my laptop, go over the files and typewrite/summarize the most relevant parts of them, a waste of precious time but I have no choice. Some files are 'libre' so you can come with your digicam and make photocopies yourself. The thing is, you have to make a reservation in advance for one of the very few photocopy-places. I reserved a place for this morning, from 9 till 11 AM. Yesterday I ordered online one 'libre' file for this morning. Since I had been working all week in other archives I had failed to notice that there was a strike yesterday, in the AN among other places. When I arrived extra early this morning to be sure to get a good place ( there are only 80-something regular places available at any one time; I arrived at 7.45 even though the place usually opens at 9 AM only ) I was among the first to arrive, but there was a note saying that the AN would open only at 10 AM because of a protest meeting. When after waiting outside in the cold for more than two hours finally at 10.15 I arrived at the desk I was told that my file had not been delivered yet because of the strike. Of course my photocopy-reservation would not be relevant anymore in the afternoon, when the file was supposed to arrive. A whole bloody day wasted: I did not bring my laptop ( they do not allow you too bring any bags into the reading room, so I thought i would concentrate only on at least one of the photocopiable files today, and to come back tomorrow with my laptop to deal with the dérogation files that are already waiting for me. Pissed off is not an exact description of my mood right now. If I had not extended my stay yesterday I would already have a serious time problem.

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