Tuesday, November 13, 2012

M - A Modern Greek Tale

The aftermath of a forest fire near Thessaloniki, Greece

I have a friend who I shall M. Out of respect for the fact she has enough on her plate as it is without my revealing her real name and adding to the battle she has to wage to retain what is left of her dignity. M phoned my last night barely able to contain her anger, seeking a sympathetic ear for her angry venting. Yet again another job interview had ended in failure and yet again her hopes of finding work, any kind of work were dashed. This time she had been told that her qualifications, which are impressive made her potential employers uneasy.

While Greece's young and educated have long given up the dream of a well paid job that matches their education and skills, the realisation is growing that any kind of job, no matter how badly paid or unskilled is no longer open to them, even when they lower their expectations to levels undreamed of just a couple of years ago. Even a part - time job paying 200 euros a month for a 20 hour week is the subject of intense competition and now the degrees and certificates that so many worked so hard to pass are seen as best an irrelevance and at worse a disincentive.

The bitter irony is that a whole generation of Greeks have been raised to find a future in an economy that no longer exists. The sacrifices made by both parents and children to assure their kids future have proven to be an educational Ponzi scheme with people now holding useless pieces of paper that had once promised a prosperous future.

So my friend M once more trawls the internet and local paper for any kind of job, recent experience and her inner work ethic means that she will happily do any time of honest work that assures her a wage.In summer that meant 12 hour days on the street outside a seaside pizzeria, using her flawless English to persuade tourists to step inside.Now that the holiday season is over she is back in Thessaloniki struggling to find the money to finish her studies that would enable to become a therapist. However, the dream of such a job is fading away quietly being forgotten with every unanswered email, every fruitless interview, every day without the hope of some kind of way out of her dead end.

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