Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The end of the world as they know it.

"There's a massive strike going on in France"
"Yeah, I read about it in the news. It's against the raise of the retirement age, isn't it?"
"That's right. Government wants to bring it up to 62 or something like that. Now it's 60"
"60 to 62?!?! Damn! That's the end of the world, isn't it?"
- Laughter -

I overheard this conversation between 2 men on my floor yesterday, as I was rushing for the bus to the station.
I smiled a little because of it, but it then stuck to my mind for a long time.
If only I could, I'd love to travel back in time, take this 2 middle-age conceited white collars and explain them some points. 
First of all, as much as the living expectancy is increasing and demography is in a downturn, people shouldn't work until they die.
The idea is to work, to be a contributing member of the community and then retire to enjoy the harvest of everything you planted before.

You may think 62 is an early age to retire but age is relative, just a number. What matters is how many years you've worked and what type of job you've had done. If you're a builder, an electrician, a lorry driver, you will probably be tired even before reaching 55.
If, like my dad, you started in a factory at 16, you will find that 60 is a lovely moment to say bye to work.

If like my friend Wahid, you've worked every single night of the past 30 years in a bakery, your eyes are blooded and your sleep routine completely off, trust me, you want it off at 45.
So, let's define "work". Do you work as much as Wahid? No, I don't think so.
As much as my dad? Trust me, you don't want to do that.
As much as I used to work in the bakery back in Italy? I'd so much love to see you trying.
Your idea of work includes a soft commute in a place forgotten by God, long coffee breaks, time spent updating your facebook status, meeting held just to make you feel important, so at the end of the day, once you return home, you know that you haven't done much (well, that's if you're honest to yourself, obviously). Yet, you have done your hours, thus "worked".

I look at the wrinkles of some people commuting on my train, at some of the people working with me, and wonder if they wouldn't rather be home, enjoying their time with their grandchildren and spending time with their hobbies (I know that's what my father would love to do).

You think that's the end of the world. No, the end of the world is that we're all setting to lower standard and gladly accepting them. Italian workers give up on their rights to strike or maternity and think they're lucky, because they still got a job. 
English get upset because the tube staff is on strike when they earn so well already. But it's not about being upset, it's about being envious: they got an union that backs them up and grant them something that everybody should get. Because they get upset and protest, while you, if you get a small bonus, you still think you're lucky and you shut up. And you keep on going, and you will struggle more and more to make ends meet and still think you're lucky.

The end of the world is that you're just a slave and you think you're free.
Working longer, working for little money means setting for a lower quality of life.

If you don't have anything else in your life and you need the office to fill the void, then you won't have problem in staying in it until you die, your head on the keyboard and the hand on the mouse. 

"Here lies John Smith, ctrl-alt-canced at his desk. His last double click was for his family",

what a Spoon Riveresque epitaph!

But hell, I don't want to be like you!

I never thought it came a day I'd say something like this, but hell no, I don't want to be like you, I want to be like a French!
And that's the end of the world, as I know it.

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