I read these days the good news that across the whole of the Spanish State, the number of unemployed fell by 72,800 people in the third quarter to a mere 5,904,700, and that the unemployment rate fell 0.28% from the second quarter of the year and now stands at 25.98% of the active population.
In addition, according to population survey (LFS) published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), between July and September occupation increased by 39,500 people, until the number of those in work stood at 16,823,200: a remarkable achievement.
Well, I went to the employment office and the 5,904,700 unemployed has now risen to 5,904,701, because I signed up on the list of the paro, because I haven't had a job for a long time now, so I decided to sign up to help to lower the employment people's euphoria a bit and to contribute in bringing the percentages a small fraction nearer to the real numbers and the true situation of life which, as far as I can see, does not have any appearance of either improvement or much less a bonanza.
I had arranged by telephone an appointment with the local office of the INE and when I was called, a week later, I took myself there to join the ranks of the unemployed.
I was looked after by a surprisingly amiable lady who, after asking for my identity card and tinkering for a few minutes on her computer, said:
'So you want to join the unemployment list because you are looking for work, is that right?'
'That's right. I know that there aren't many openings, but...'
She cut across me. 'Here it says you have a Bachelor of Arts. Do you have other studies?'
'Yes. I graduated in “trade, political and economic science” as it was called 40 years ago, but the truth is that I don't know anything about this, since I've never practiced it'
'You will need to bring the graduation certificate if you want to put this qualification in your records'.
'Do you suppose', I asked, 'that this will earn me more opportunities? After all, I'm sixty-three years old'.
'Well, who knows?' She shrugged.
'OK, then just leave me as a Bachelor'.
'So what sort of work would you be looking for?'
'Well... I would be glad to find anything that I knew how to do. I've been three years without doing anything and I've spent the few savings that I had'.
'So what sort of work have you been doing?'
'Um... I have been twenty-five years in politics. I have been head of a press council, the private secretary of the mayor and a councillor. In fact, I've been a councillor for twelve years. Right now I have that privilege until the next municipal elections, but since I'm in the Opposition I only receive a State payment of attendance at plenary and information committees (two hundred euros per month) and I certainly can't live on that'.
'So, what shall I put you down as?' said my interrogator.
'You can say that I am a councillor and would like to continue with this, but with functions and a proper salary'.
'I can't put that. Councillors are elected in elections, you can't just be one' she said warmly.
'Yes of course, but... and if there is some party somewhere in Spain that needs a few extra people to make up its list for upcoming elections? I couldn't care less which stripe or colour is the party as long as I have a real chance of leading up a department. I've been a councillor of culture, finance, tourism and could do anything, trust me. You see, what I really know how to do is to organise rallies, write press releases, party programmes, deal with complaints, participate in discussions, pose before the cameras, participate in processions... And since I am in the political centre, I would be just as useful in a right-wing or a left-wing candidacy because I will always move the party towards the opposite side and so I will get more votes. I have no problems with ideology because I have none of my own and so I can adapt to anything. Put down 'Councillor' in your computer, thanks'.
'Fine, done. And in what territory you would like to find work: local, provincial, a national post perhaps...?'
'You can put down European too! I'd be just as happy to be a councillor in Paris, Warsaw or Stockholm. Anywhere within the European Community...but not the Third World. Those countries frighten me; I can't stand poverty, or diseases or of course fanaticism and I'm used to a certain standard of living'.
'Right', she says, 'I've put you down as anywhere within the European Union'.
'So do you think that I have a chance?'
'I have no idea; but just to finish this last box, what do you know of scams, commissions, bribes, corruption, nepotism, money laundering, illegal financing and so on...?'
The busy fingers typed in my reply...