Bling

There’s this Romanian saying everybody learns in elementary school.

Work is a gold bracelet.

The metaphor confused me as a child, because I could see more than one way in which work could be associated with jewellery.

For one thing, work enabled you to go out and buy jewellery you could then show off among people with less lucrative careers.

Then, work was something to take pride in and cherish, the way I suppose people cherished their shiny bracelets and stacked diamond rings.

And I also imagined at the time that work was something only certain people, most of them somewhat sneaky, got to have and enjoy. I guess this last one had to do with the fact that in Communist Romania, way back when, gold bracelets were not particularly easy to come by. You needed connections. Pretty much the way today, in no longer Communist Romania, you need connections to get a job, any job. And I’m told most times it ends up feeling more like a heavy handcuff rather than a shiny piece of bling.

I wasn’t planning yet another oh-isn’t-Romania-super-duper-interesting post for today, but so many people seem to be panicking that I’ve moved to London to steal their jobs, that I’m actually starting to think there must be some truth in it. I guess, unknowingly, I am indeed stripping everybody of their livelihoods. I’ll have gold bracelets up to my shoulders soon enough, which will not only make me the envy of the world, but will also do wonders for my arm muscle definition.

Until then though, the only piece of bling I’m wearing today is my office id card. It’s plastic but my photo is in plain sight and if you look closely, you can clearly read it in my sneaky eyes. I’m a professional job thief.

6 thoughts on “Bling

  1. I believe the epithet of a “job thief” is applied to unqualified labour, not to highly skilled professionals who choose to move out of their country and work and live elsewhere. I wouldn’t be worried about that.

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    • I don’t know… To be honest, I haven’t really come across this attitude in my previous work places, but these days, people (just a couple of them, mind you!) more or less jokingly mention this oh-you’re-after-all-our-jobs thing to my face on a daily basis. I’m never one to take myself too seriously, as hopefully you’ve already figured out from my writing here :), but this situation has stopped being funny a long time ago.

      I felt particularly upset about it this morning, after yet another Romanians-are-thieves episode in the office. Now, a full four hour nap later, I’m much more zen and resigned to just live with it. But even that’s sad. Resigning yourself to being treated like that, in today’s society, is plain sad.

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  2. Much as I wish it were true @Maraeastern, I’m sad to say I have heard the comment made in all contexts.

    One of the things of which I’m most proud about our country is its amazing wealth of cultures and peoples from all walks of life and all social levels; And it’s one of the things I’m most ashamed of that we seem recently to have become so xenophobic about our non-native workforce most of whom frankly have a much better work and life ethic than many a “true” Londoner. I’m lucky enough now to be based in an international office. The different perspectives and experience make for a far richer, more creative and ultimately more commercially successful environment.

    @LondonGeek – Great Post. Thank you. I very much hope I get the chance to live (and work) some day soon in your home Romania 🙂

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  3. I know it doesn’t help that much, but it’s not only happening in the UK. I faced this “oh you’re taking my job away” attitude in Austria too, once it even ended up in mobbing.
    Until one day, when they pissed me off and I asked them if they too have my qualification, speak at least 3 languages fluent and stuff like that. Then, I offered one of those ignorant ladies to try and make my job for a couple of days and see if she could easily take my place. It worked, everybody turned out to be supportive.

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    • Yes, I have heard similar stories from friends working across EU. It’s utterly dismaying. In my case, it’s my manager who’s got this attitude towards me, and is very verbal about it on a daily basis. I decided I’d be discreet about it and sent him an email asking him not to approach the subject in public anymore. The result was he almost fired me. 😐

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      • Of course he almost fired you, because he has the “power” and stuff. It is a power game. Try to admit it’s not you, it’s him and the truly lame “strategy” of weak people. They feel better by making others feel bad.

        Sadly, for this kind of people, there is little hope. There will always be a “reason” to use the temporary power and bully people. Today it’s the nationality, because the whole media industry supports it.

        Also sadly, I had to deal with this in my personal life too, which takes it to a totally different level.

        What I eventually learned, after about 10 years living abroad, is either to ignore this or to twist the “jokes” and stand up for myself. For instance once another smart ass lady told me that I am coming and taking the jobs of her kids away. My reply was something like: “you probably mean I am here to pay a shitload of taxes and eventually to do the job your kids are too lazy to do, because they barely graduated high school, right?”.

        It takes a lot of guts, of course, and it doesn’t always work out (especially when your job is in steak), but it changes a lot of mind sets.

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