Collecting my papers for the unemployment office was all I had to do, deep down in the chambers of my mind, I knew that I might just miss one or maybe two.”You have got everything you need in the transaprent file!”I thought to myself. I tried not to think much of that as I was repairng myself, sipping my last sip of coffee, and grabbing my bag, keys and mobile phone. I trotted down stairs to where I park ‘my set of wheels’ and set off. Up the street to Messogion, past the Megaro of ERT ,with an open forum in session and to OAED, the Unemployment office.
As I enetered many people were standing and many more sitting at the chairs waiting for their number to be called. All in all 6 cubicals were working serving he public. I walked up to the machine, pressed the red button and saw that there were no numbers! Two young men were sitting near where I was and they told me quietly to get a number abandoned from other people that could not wait. They were young, tall , slender of light complextion with light brown fair hair and well composed. Typical of the generation of young Greek menwho have spent most of their lives studying. From the selection of about 4 numbers in the t 290’s, I chose 263 at 12:58pm. So, I prepared myself for a long wait. You see, if you have a number, you get served, even when the offices close at 2pm. Holding that in mind, I smiled and stood at the end against the wall.
One young man was smiling and the other seemed closed in, so I decided to strike up a conversation:
I asked: “So what is the procedure, if we have a number we get served?”
The two young men smiled and responded: “Yes, to get either an unemployment card or both a card and unemployment benefits…”
I asked: “Is this the first time you are receiving Unemployment?”
The tall young man with the light brown hair responded: ” I have been working on an ‘on and off basis’ for the past couple of years as a Primary school teacher ‘. My friend has been working as a casual teacher on call.”
My response was quick with a smile: ” Ahh! I am a teacher made redundant last week too. However, I work in the private sector and the situation is worse, because parents have taken their children from Private Schools and they have entered the Public school system. As for Private Tuitions things have diminished…. Things must be much better with old teachers retiring making way for ”young blood ‘ the ‘new batch’ of teachers that have entered the school systems (that have had training with child psychology, methodology in teaching and so on) …why have you been made redundant? Haven’t the numbers of students increased in entering primary schools in this area ?”
The fair haired young man sitting on a desk against the back wall were I was more dishearted and added: “… they are closing schools and the number of children are increasing. I have been working as a casual teacher working full time going to different schools for short periods of time. I have also worked at one school as a replacement teacher … thngs are not good…
To cheer him up I immediately said: “It is a good thing you have been gaining experience, seeing how children work…working with other teachers…Have you always wanted to become a primary school teacher?”
He looked and smiled looking down at hs hands then lifting his eyes and responded to me: ” Yes, I have always wanted to become a teach…I work well with all children..I do not find them a problem, however there are some teachers and even prinicpals that are difficult…I would not want to do anything else other than teach.”
The numbers were rolling and we carefully looked at our numbers. The conversation lead to the situation we are facing. They were not happy with the situation and expressed their feelings of concern. Much of the blame for the situation was laid on the shoulders of of those who had governerned in the past and of course, those that are still in government. Anger was expressed and they felt that education should not be touched by the crisis. It felt like a calm anger that would explode.
Personally, I welcomed that they had selected to enter education and I was happy to hear that they work well with children. They seemed very nice, and skeptical; they were critical and interested to see what the future held.
In the end we departed as our numbers came up. iwished them well and they shook my hand. Naturally I have to go back again but I don’t know if I will see them again.
It was short but interesting to see that we shared common view even though I was much older than them. I noticed that I was able to fill them in on how things were in the ‘Good Times’ of the past, which had them shaking their heads. They feel the ‘gap’ with that geneation. We both agreed that many things in education should change but with energetic interesting people.