Friday, December 25, 2009

Poverty for the holidays

Well, Santa hasn't brought me anything but bills this year, as usual. Paris is a great city in which to live—even when you are poor—but it's even more fun to live in when you are rich (at least as far as my fading memory goes).

This year I'm behind on rent, utilities, food, etc., as usual. Or actually, I'm usually up to date on rent, since I pay that first, but this year I'm behind on everything. In part that's because the company that manages my building shafted me this summer with a fraudulent demand for payment, but also it's because my employer is trying to starve me. The weird thing is that I have a job, and yet I'm making less than some people make on welfare or unemployment benefits. My employer doesn't care what financial hardships it imposes on its employees, as long as they are abused in a way that makes maximum money. I wonder how my company's clients would feel if they knew that the “professionals” working with them can't afford socks or toothpaste.

Anyway, I don't pay any attention to holidays. There are days when I work (and for which I'm paid, even though it's minimum wage), and days when I don't work (and don't get paid). Other than that, I don't observe any distinctions … although some holidays are especially inconvenient because you have time off but not much opportunity to use it, since everything is closed.

Moving right along … the numbers say that tourism in Paris has actually done just fine this year, despite the economic depression started by rich, greedy bankers in the U.S. There are still quite a few people in the world with the money to go on vacation, and Paris is the world's number-one vacation destination city. This hasn't helped me very much, but I do see about as many tourists right now as I had seen before the depression. Even American tourists have only slightly declined. I guess it cheers me up a little bit to see that not everyone is struggling to pay the rent or buy groceries.

My main holiday activity has been dragging whatever personal belongings I can find to the eBay store to be auctioned off. I don't have much since the government seized almost all of it six years ago, but I've been looking around for anything that might sell for something on eBay. Unfortunately, the store only accepts things that are worth at least €30, and a lot of the stuff I've found isn't worth that much.