Voices of the Unemployed

Paul Klee, Mother and child

Paul Klee, Mother and child

Last November, a little girl  asked her mother something. The girl lived in a children’s village in Kallithea as her unemployed mother could not afford to provide her with even the basics. So the little girl asked her mother at the end of a visit to not leave her, promising that she would never ask for food again. I try and think of that story every time I hear them talking about economic growth.

This text was written to mark the presentation of the book ‘To Imerologio Enos Anergo (Diary of the Unemployed) which contains 155+1 selected stories from the eponymous website, imerologioanergou.gr, edited and with comments by Christoforos Kasdaglis.
See The Press Project for the story here
More excerpts of stories below

“Nora is the name that I would like to have in another, different life to the one I am living now… In that life I would be happier with optimism, with dreams and goals which it would be possible to realize. In a life where I would wake up in the morning and have my job to go to.”

“I worked for 23 years in the metal industry. When they fired me I felt like they were murdering me, just like that, with a bullet that had my name written on (and court oversight). That’s how I feel, I changed, I am no longer the same, I became wilder.”
George, 45 

“Why should I be called, ‘unemployed’? Why should I take responsibility for a situation I did not choose? Almost from the moment that I lost my job I’ve wondered that.
For that reason I propose that we shouldn’t say we are unemployed but we should tell the truth: we have been fired!”
Fired, 36

“In 25 years I don’t know how many shows I’ve done, how many headlines I came up with, how many hours I have spent at the microphone. And on the 11th of June they fired me… I feel like they raped me… at 46 years old with a child and divorced. I have not learnt to do anything else, radio is my life. Why did they deprive me of it?”
Roulame, 46, Larisa

“Today I was told by a company to whom I had sent my resume that they are hiring me and with good money. It was the first time in my life that I cried out of joy. After two years of unemployment and hitting the bottom of poverty, with only 2 euros in my pocket for a family of four for a month, it was like manna from heaven. I want to share this joy with all of you.”
Dimitris, 45

“That is when depression knocked on my door, accompanied by daily panic attacks. I wouldn’t wish on my enemy something like that, a frightful illness, you lose yourself, you are not yourself, you become trapped and fighting with your subconscious, shaking, fears, heart racing, dizziness, a beast inside you which grows…”
George, 30, Attica 

“No I won’t / we won’t last, not even until the summer.
In my pocket I don’t have a penny and to all my friends, relatives, acquaintances I owe something. I have exhausted that as well. I have exhausted all of my sources.” 
Alexander, 37

“I remember like it was yesterday the first night I came home. We had put the kids to bed. The elder seven and the younger five then. Passing outside of their room I heard them whispering in the dark. “Dad was fired,” said the older. “What does it mean that he was ‘fired’?” asked the younger. “They kicked him out from his work”. “And now what are we going to do? How will we shop? What will we eat?” the little one wondered, clearly worried. “Don’t worry, go to sleep…” They stopped talking…”

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