The Second Shift

Each evening, after 19h, during the second shift, I was waiting for the sound of his steps. He was a small-to-medium-built man with a dark complexion. His slightly swinging gait gave him a certain stateliness. The Mondays were the only days when his black beard, freshly shaved, was allowing his face to be seen. Despite the lack of high-level formal education, he was a very knowledgeable man with a rare skill: he knew to ask questions and to look for new questions from the answers he had got. I think his formal training was in vocational school only. He was a very smart guy and an avid reader. Every single engineer in the Company (quite more than a hundred) knew him well and few of them really appreciated his friendship, me included.

I have many memories with and about him: his uniques accomplishments, our discussions during the last hours of the evening shifts – when the production process allowed us to chat – and so on. What pushes me, now, to write about him is a story from a revolute era, when the Berlin Wall was still to fall in a couple of years, that links perfectly with present day when some other Walls are still to be built.

The only character in all the articles, in the very few newspapers, was the Leader (of the Party and the country). My friend, one day, took his time, despite nausea that it provokes, to count all the places where the Leader’s name was printed in the Party’s newspaper, a slim 8 pages.

In that memorable evening, he arrived with the Party’s newspaper in his hand, thrown it on one table and said to me “His … name is mentioned here for two hundred times.” After a long moment of silence, filled up with despair, he added  “It might be worse than now but has to be somebody with a fucking different name.

By the way: we have an election here on 19 October, isn’t it?

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