Autumn has come. It is the rainy season when people get ready for winter. In Bucharest the pavement is cleaner each day, swept by the wind coming from the Romanian Plain, rather than by the employees of the Municipality, which have other priorities. Nowadays they battle the stray dogs which they ignores for some 20 years, allowing them to multiply, like the Black Sea algae that prevents tourists from bathing in the sea. At the seaside, local authorities allow dogs to be the masters not only of streets, but also of beaches, their main concern being to organise cheap feasts attended by crowds of commoners.
In south-east Romania, autumn brought a new wave of suffering. Rain once again razed to the ground dozens of villages, leaving over 7,000 homeless. In Moldova, the Siret flooded other villages, destroying everything in its path.
Every two years, when devastating floods hit Romania, we witness the ubiquitous disputes between politicians, who blame each other for not being able to make river improvement works and prevent such periodic disasters or, as in towns, to unclog sewers. Of course, this is also the responsibility of water companies, which pretend that they can do nothing, because “the grid is old.” In their turn, mayors say there is nothing they can do. When asked about how they used the money, they rebuke journalists, whom they ask to stop pestering them with questions now, “when people are suffering.”
Sometimes I have the impression that the Romanian is genetically unable to overcome his poor condition and evolve in a civilised world. Why haven’t new dikes been built? Why weren’t rivers rerouted? There is a simple answer: because of indolence, laziness and corruption. Money is diverted to other ‘projects’ and wallets. A child died in Galati, swept away by the fury of waters. The news passed largely unnoticed. News televisions, which keep exasperating Romanians with how ferociously they chew on sensational stories until reaching saturation, have other matters of interest. Watching TV, one could get the impression that Romanians are exclusively interested by Rosia Montana or by the fate of stray dogs, which actually only trouble the water throughout the political class, where water is always murky anyway. Had these stories not existed, others would have surely appeared, assuring the daily portion of scandal in the media. Same characters, different masks and new script. Apart from this, everything is old and everything is new…, in Eminescu’s words.
In the real world, people have other matters of concern. The large majority of us, which are struggling to survive, anxious about tomorrow, about the insecurity of jobs, the money to pay the ever-higher cost of life, the expenses with school and kindergarten, medicines and petrol, the war that is about to start near us, the gloomy day-to-day life in a country where the real problem is not money, but the combination of theft, incompetence, indolence and arrogance displayed by the rulers.
Instead of pickling green tomatoes, cabbage, red peppers and cauliflower, we should better dump our politicians into huge pickling vats and put them on display in a museum of future fossils.
Sour and crusty as they are, our representatives are genetically predisposed to being pickled, same as the company owners and managers that have no limit in exploiting their employees and treating them like slaves. Giving someone a job in Romania has become, for managers, the most powerful argument used to blackmail the employees abused and humiliated each day. Employees are deprived of their rights, by not being paid the due wages on time and receiving no extra payment for their extra work, like crisis would have disqualified work. Here, again, we are confronted with the sheer lack of interest of authorities, which instead of monitoring how the rights of employees are respected and, above all, how the LAW is observed, prefer to sleep in their comfortable chairs, sometimes taking bribes so they turn a blind eye, because – anyway – they are paid their wages on time from the state budget.
Social injustice is at home in Romania. Many company owners, from various fields of activity like transportation, construction and – last, but not least – press form real cartels, refusing to pay their employees on time under the pretext that “this is what others do as well.” Law is optional for them and the labour contract which sets clear rules, rights and obligations is just a worthless piece of paper…
A liquidator, a fabulously wealthy lawyer shouts at employees that their company would not have turned insolvent if they would have worked harder (on miserable wages and in subhuman conditions), forgetting to blame the political managers who robbed the company and concluded preferential not to say illegal contracts with the political clients. The insolence of this man reached a peak when there was talk about the government renouncing his services, which proved inefficient. “If I leave, I leave for a better job, I will be appointed minister of the Economy.” Actually, why not? The man is a freemason and former faculty colleague of PM Ponta. Would someone be surprised to see him minister? Not me, because in Romania impudence is highly valued and incompetence is rewarded. The same guy had the nerve to sack pregnant employees and female employees on maternity leave, saying: “This is not a company of nursing mothers!” Hopefully someone reacted and the man was fined by the anti-discrimination body. Will he change his attitude? Unlikely. And so, life goes on in Romania, for us the commoners…