Communism was a rotten system that I was surprised it lasted that long. I wrote in one of my previous blogs about the policy of hate. If diverse groups hated each-other, or at least it was a mistrust between them, then it was easier to control them.
The official position of the Communist Party was that the most useful work is done by the strong arms of the working class, and everybody understood this means the workers. Lawyers, doctors, priests, accountants, engineers felt excluded, but they did not care much, almost everybody hated the system anyway. The irony was that all worker families dreamt that one or more in their family could reach one day to be in that “excluded” group, but the competition to be accepted in a University was fierce, at least school had ambitious standards.
And one day I found out what was in the mind of one of my “worker” colleague.
I have a degree in Computer Science and I worked as an electronic engineer. It was 1982, or 1983. I was specialized in some electronic equipment that my company sold to power plants. Those days electronics was very different than today …with transistors, coils, resistors, capacitors, and the schemas for those electronic devices covered the whole table or more, falling over the table’s edges. Electronics engineer was a challenging and interesting job.
I was in one of my business trips in a power plant fixing a device. I found that the problem was a huge contactor, and the power plant did not have it in its inventory. So, I called the factory and one of my worker colleague brought the contactor in his arms (it was around 40 kg), and even if the trip was by train, there were some distances on foot. And he also uninstalled the defective one, and installed the new one, I could not help, it was no room for two inside that device.
After all was done, I invited him to canteen and offered a meal, I received one coupon (that I offered him) from a worker in the power plant that had to leave for the day (I was well known there).
We did not really have common subjects, and I ventured. “How much do you do a month?”
That guy was about my age, but more years on the job, since he started right after primary school, at 16 or 17. “Depends on how many overtime hours I do, but around 4200 a month.”
It was a big surprise for me, I really did not know, and I did not hide it. “Well, that’s a lot, I have a fix salary, 2900 a month.”
He looked with the eyes that told his story, he did not care. So, I continued: “Do you think it is fair?”
More interested in the meal in front of him, he was polite in his answer, even if the words did not mean that. “We the workers keep you engineers on our shoulders. What do you do at work? All day long you stare at those schemas on the table, and sometimes with the oscilloscope see some measurements inside the devices, that actually we build.”
“Don’t you think that working with the head is still a work?”
He looked at me for few seconds then returned his attention to the food. He was not a bad guy, but communism twisted his mind, he appreciated only the work he understood, his, and the Party told him that his work is the most important in the country, something great comes out of his hands every day.
Both muscles and brain are necessary for the society to keep going, but that society that value muscles more than brain cannot survive. Communism died in Romania in December 1989.