Five years ago, on a hot August day, while I was having lunch by the pool at the restaurant of a hotel with some friends, I received a phone call from (I will keep this secret), asking me if I had seen the announcement at my workplace for an English teacher.
"No," I said, without any fear in my voice. The truth is that I should have been worrying about being replaced, but that's part of my personality: to go away from where I am not wanted. Through this phone call, I was being informed that my part-time 5-hours-a-week job during the academic term was about to become 0 hours a week for me, and a regular 9 to 5 job for someone else. Apparently, the advertisement had been up for about 2 weeks already by the time I heard about it, through that phone call. As one of the three English teachers at the institute, I was kind of surprised to hear that I was being informed about the possibility of re-applying for the job I was already doing: if someone wanted to kick me out of my job, why were they informing me about the announcement?
|I am very proud of my kids - they were planting beans yesterday under their father's instuctions.|
This was my first introduction to restructuring in my workplace. The person on the phone actually had the audacity to ask me if I knew anyone who might be interested in this job. Being the confident positive person that I generally am, I said: "Yes, of course I do. Me." He kept a straight face (presumably, although I could only hear his straight voice), and he asked me if I could bring along my CV to the office as soon as possible - the announcement stated that applications close in two days time.
In two hours, I had gone home and updated my CV. During this time, I was contacted by my two colleagues who I shared the job with: one was British, the other was Greek-American. They were both contacted at the same time as I was which made me feel very confident - no one was showing preference for any particular staff memebr. The English woman insisted that we should not make a new application and we should demand our rights (whatever they were; she eventually took the whole issue to court, but did not take it to the end of the case becasue it began to cost her too much money). The Greek-American liked the British woman's idea, because she didn't have a CV ready for printing; neither did the Brit - they didn't own computers, as such things were not necessary in Greek society at the time, not even in the Greek public sector: if the public sector didn't use them much, why should the people feel they needed to use them?
I visited my uncles this morning, and checked the pot simmering away on the stove. Before I knew it, my uncle had placed a plate of beans before me, and he brought out all the trimmings one by one: bread, wine, cheese.
The Greek-American was sly - she could see that I was determined to get my CV into the office as soon as I could (I deliverred it the same day). She decided to go along with my plan, to re-apply for the job, even thouogh she knew that only one of us would end up with a job. The British woman made me feel like I was going against her, that I was not showing solidarity towards the greater good. I decided that all I could possibly lose by what I was doing was 5 hours a week of work, or a friendly relationshoip with my colleagues. If I didn't get the job, I would still be 'freinds' with my colleaguse, who I never met up with except at work. We didn't drink coffee together, as the Greeks say. If I got the job, they probably wouldn't remain my friends; but they never were in the first place - they were just my colleagues. In other words, I stood to lose very little.
|Greece is in a period of immese sweeping changes, but some things will not change much for me.|
So in the end, only the Greek American and I applied for the position. I decided that we were entering this venture together. Maybe one of us would win, and the other wouldn't, but we both had an equal chance. I expressed this view to her, and she agreed. |At any rate, we had NO OTHER CHOICE. My boss was determined: he wanted one full-time person to do the job of three part-time people, and in a different way. If we did not give in a CV, we would be showing that we were not interested in working and we were indifferent to our plight. May the best (wo)man win.
|When under-confident pessimist Greeks were rushign their money out fo the country fearing a return to the drachma, and believing that we would not have any money to buy bread as in the WW2 days, i simply stocked up on staples, just in case i didnt feel safe on the street when trying to procure these goods. They lasted me a long time, and I didnt have to go shopping often. I will wait till these older supplies finish and then do the same thing again. That way, I dont need to bother myself with the world too much.|
Later on, I found out that the applications that had been received for the advertised position were severely lacking in substance. The mere three people that applied (apart from the two previous teachers) were unqualified, and some gossip emerged that they were not quite suitable for the position. And what happened in the end? We were both hired. The position was turned into a part-time position of 20 hours per week per person. The pay was much lower per hour than what we were both getting before, but we were both in employment, and our work environment was a pleasant one. We gained so much more than what we lost!
For various reasons that do not concern this post, my colleague left the position, and I ended up being employed full time. If I hadn't approached the whole issue of restructuring positively, I would have eneded up with absolutely nothing. Am I just lucky? No, that would be like saying I wasn't a worthy employee, and I didn't deserve what I got. I did, actually.