Workshy of the world, unite!

In my freshly-awoken daze this morning I grabbed my phone to check the time, see if I could still get out for a run. 

I got my days mixed up. Tomorrow is the first day in seven weeks that people in Spain are allowed outside for a walk or some other kind of exercise. 

Now, I’m not here to have a lockdown-off, but ours has been pretty gnarly. 

Every time I check Instagram, folk in the UK are sharing photos of them cooped up at home one minute then taking a run through the park the next. But no, I’m not bitter. I’m not here to have a lockdown-off, like I said. But I think if we did — and I’m not saying we are — but if we did, we all know whose lockdown is a real lockdown and whose is a Lockdown Lite. 

Not that a government-enforced policy of being a couch potato is something to brag about. 

Today is not Saturday, but I do have a day off. Happy International Workers Day. 

I’ve never really been cut-out for work. I think the first time I considered retirement was when I was just half-an-hour into my first-ever shift stocking shelves at the village shop. I was 13 at the time.

I’ve done a lot since then. I’ve worked in a fish and chip shop, washed dishes, served tables, pulled pints, made paninis, butchered meat, and teached English. Now I’m a journalist. 

I would still retire right this very moment if I could. Perhaps I’ve just not found my vocation. 

This lockdown has given me time to reflect on that, though my idea of a dream job has changed several times in that period, largely depending on what I’m watching on Netflix. 

When I watched Drive to Survive, I was convinced I would become a Formula One driver. I just have to figure out the tricky business of getting my license first. Then I watched Baby Ballroom and decided — you guessed it — I wanted to be a ballroom dancer. Then I watched Hitler’s Circle of Evil.

But I count myself very lucky to have a job, especially living in Spain, a country that leans on the shoulders of an army underpaid — or totally unpaid — interns. 

Companies have gotten into the habit of plucking students and fresh graduates and expect them to hand over a couple of years of their lives for anything between 0 and 300 euros a month. The average rent for a room in Madrid is 500 euros a month. They rarely offer them a full-time job when the internship is over.

Another hangover from the financial crisis is an unsavoury ethos in the workplace that you should just be grateful to have a job at all. 

And people wonder why so many of Spain’s adults live with their parents. And why so many of Spain’s adults are forced abroad to find work. 

Then came the coronavirus. Spain’s GDP dropped 5.2 percent in the first three months of 2020, a period that only takes the first two weeks of the lockdown into account, so brace yourselves for the second quarterly report. At least 900,000 jobs have been wiped out by the pandemic, although the government has made it illegal for companies to fire people. 

Europe’s northern countries, the Netherlands in particular, have been vocal in their opposition to splitting the debt for Spain’s (and Italy’s) recovery programs. 

Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, was recently filmed in an exchange with a random worker. The random worker tells the PM: “Please don’t give the Italians and the Spanish money.”

“No, no, no,” Rutte replies with a thumbs up and a grin. Almost 25,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Spain. And more in Italy.

Cheers, Mark.

Another thing we’ve confirmed during the lockdown is who is a key worker and who is not. 

Medical staff, street cleaners, carers, social workers, shop assistants, post office workers, food deliverers, they are. We clap for them — if only a round of applause could be monetized. 

I’m wary of the term heroes, though. It’s often used by governments in reference to soldiers, to make the death of young men and women palatable. 

The rich, they’re not essential. Branson trying to get a government bailout from his privately-owned Caribbean island. Bezos firing workers for complaining about the health and safety conditions in Amazon warehouses. DeGeneres comparing lockdown in her mansion to prison. 

Perhaps after all this has blown over, we can have a ruddy good revolution. Then we can all retire. 

Anyone else seen the Cuba Libre Story on Netflix?

Happy International Workers Day. 

 

 

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