Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th

Today I was helping one of my Italian colleagues decipher and translate a documentary about New Orleans and there was one part of the film that shocked him even more than the post-Katrina footage: scenes of man from the lower ninth ward proudly talking about how his mother, a single parent who worked as a maid, managed to send both him & his sister to the best private (parochial) school in the city and put them through college AND bought two homes all by herself.
My Italian colleague found it incredibly difficult to believe that something of this sort could be possible, his reaction was a mixture of disbelief and amazement and he said "It blows my mind how much people can accomplish in the US with hard work".

Happy 4th of July.


Kataroma said...

Wow - she must have worked pretty darned hard at her cleaning job!

I actually think that people can do well if they work hard here in Italy too - but only if they work for themselves. Working for someone else you'll never get anywhere. Also - no bank would ever grant a mortgage to a single mother who works as a maid (no fixed contract!)

Romerican said...

Not so sure about being able to do well here if you work hard & work for yourself. Most people I know here work for themselves (freelance) but are still struggling.
Maybe business owners (restaurants, stores, bars etc) can make a killing here, but the rest of us schmucks bust our chops and never seem to make it =(

Monika said...

I think that is true for a lot of Europe...i come from Poland where they think it is incredible that at my age (30) I have a house with more than one bedroom. Then again, culture is funny like that as they also think it's incredible I don't have three kids by now!
Great blog as usual :)

Kataroma said...

Well, I don't mean 'make a killing' but I do mean make a reasonable living.

I guess I get a bit sick of Italians I know whinging about being paid 800 euros a month and relying on family support at age 35. My husband used to make that kind of money too (actually less) but then he decided to open the B&B, saved for several years and just did it with no family help or connections - heck, he's from a tiny village in Holland and his dad is a retired crane driver. Several of his friends have done the same. They work their asses off and get paid a 'reasonable wage' - nothing fancy but enough that we're able to save a bit and maybe one day will be able to buy our own place rather than renting.

But so many people i know here are such pessimists - they think that my H must have family money or connections or some kind of financial backer. I guess I was just saying that if you're being paid 800-1000 euros a month you shouldn't put up with it - find a way to make more even if that means moving to another city or even another country for a while - or working in a field other than that where you got your degree (another thing that lots of Italians I know refuse to do.)

I agree that it's much easier to do things on your own in other countries though. Apart from anything else, the red tape has to be seen to be believed here. And things which should take very little time take aaaggees.

Romerican said...

I hear you... If Romans refused to accept these measly wages/rates most places are paying, then eventually these places would have to increase them. Fundamentally, that's the main problem in this city (as I see it), people are willing to accept crap instead of standing up for their rights or moving on to something different and better.

It's harder for me to save money in Italy than it is in US, not because I have an extravagant lifestyle here but because I'm obliged to have a partita IVA and hence I pay obscene amounts of taxes =(