I had lately several blogs about my experience in communist Romania, where I tried to portray how rotten was the system, simply telling stories about my reality as an electronic engineer. I was still a rookie engineer and landed on the Minister’s list as an expert in some electronic devices mostly deployed in Coil Power Plants. Many times, the minister himself signed my delegations. Was it any reward for that? No.
But… one day, after I solved some problems in one of those Power Plants, a guy came to me. “You do not know me, and my name is not important,” said the man, “ but I tell you two things. First is that you should know that the minister signed a bonus for you and the ministry will send the money to your factory.”
Then the man looked to me to be sure I understood. So I asked, “that is very nice, when I am supposed to get it?”
“That is the second thing you should know. Never. Unless you fight to get it.” And he turned around and left.
Sounds like a Kafka story? Surreal? Science-fiction? Well, it was true. And here is why. The minister will send a bonus for me to the factory, but no one will tell me. After three weeks the money will be sent to a factory account, and I will have two more weeks to ask for it. But of course, since I do not know, this will not happen. That means that I refused the bonus. And the factory can claim that money for someone else. The story how I found all this is too complicated, you, the reader must believe me (sorry for that).
OK. But I knew. By the way, the year was 1982.
We got our salaries in an envelope (I had 2,900 lei / month – Romanian currency). It was a fat old lady, dressed carelessly, who gave us the money in a dark room, no windows, on the ground level. I assumed the same lady should give me the bonus.
Upon my return to the factory I entered the dark room and asked: “Do I have a bonus? My name is Eliade Moldovan”
The lady answered in a very unfriendly tone: “No.”
And I visited the lady every week, with the same question. Her answer was the same “No”, her tone more and more nervous, that escalated. After few weeks, when she saw me coming, she shouted before I had a chance to ask my question, and before I entered the room (the door was always opened): “You have no bonus.” And that escalated too, her yelling was louder and louder… Until one day, when she did not shout when I got closer to her room. Without a word, or any other paper for me to sign or see, she handed me an envelope with 1,000 lei inside.
So I finally got 1,000 lei bonus that was a reward for few years of travelling around the country as an expert on the minister’s list. With that money I could spend 2-3 days with my family in a hotel at Black Sea.