FRANCE AND GOD
Continuation of the chapter II
THE UKRAINE PLAINS
The woman’s freedom
A thing was known less, the "Freedom of the Woman". If I didn’t approach this topic earlier, that’s because it wasn’t in this an inequality, but to the contrary a too great equality. In our modern society, many professions are now more accessible to the women than they were before for her, but it was not yet truly the case in Ukraine at that time. The shovel and pickaxe were a lot more convenient than any mechanical machine so often broken down. Such were therefore the sweepers of the streets.
I don't want of course to speak about mechanical sweepers, but about large ladies, generally more very young, whom paced up and down the streets, an immense broom in birch in hands. The body doubled up, they advanced heavily to the rate of their immense tool. I would not like to exaggerate, but only one swept, on the only one way, the street behind our building where two cars passed each other easily. Come rains, come sale, come snows, they were there, faithful to their job. It went in the same way for the garbage collection. Small metal staircases were installed for this purpose here and there bottom of the buildings. The collecting truck, driven by a man, stopped in the vicinity, and each one, his trash can in hand, was climbing the staircase to get rid of his detritus in the truck's tipper. Numerous were the men who came to do exercises of climbing, but in the truck's tipper, to squelch in the rubbish to rank them with foot, they was always these same large women.
There were other fields in which the woman excelled, it was in the jobs as road mender, mason or roofer. I don't speak there about the women's exception like it also exists in Occident, but well of a great proportion. The men were crane drivers or heavy plant driver, but the ladies were with the shovel and the pickaxe, or to surface the concrete with heavy rules from mason. In the same circumstances as the varnished floor, few days after my arrival, we had been onlookers of a group of female road menders. It was in the first weeks of my first stay, because it was still very cold, I think we were at the March beginning. Near our building, the roadway was seriously damaged in this winter end, and a large cavity from two to three meters in diameter had been formed close a crossing. Once again, with the midday bus on the way of the restaurant, we saw a full big trailer from hot mix smoking again, not far from there. Just like for the sander, the more mocking people from us and perhaps also most lucid, didn’t miss this opportunity to allude many sarcastic comments, on style "I to you guaranteed they will wait until the hot mix cools"!
On our return way after lunched, five women provided with shovels and rakes, were bustling around the trailer moved near the hole. Two of them in the trailer, provided with shovels which they employed like pickaxes, tried to detach a large block of bituminous mix. One other, on the ground, provided with a rake tried to push it over, while the last two waited.
I don't believe it is possible to laugh of that, so much the ridiculous one of the situation was close to the wretched. Saddest was indeed the impotence of the goodwill ridiculed in the heart of each one of these women. We discovered the result the evening even on our return. They had succeeds to knock down in the hole's medium, an enormous block of bitumen from sixty to eighty centimeters to cube, approximately representing the value of the total volume of the cavity, but not spread out because cooled too early. It stayed there several days until a big track-
It was still quite tall when I left at the end of May, but when I returned in September, helping heat, it had been somewhat spread out. The initial cavity had however made in the same way, and represented almost the totality of the roadway, only the bitumen monticule remained in its medium.
I let to you appreciate the thing without more comment. All is certainly not perfect in various country, and perhaps could us to see similar examples here and there, but it was so much the daily rule, which it highlighted
In the very image of these ambivalences, as much a tiny risk could be protected by draconian rules from safety, as much it could be contrary in a total unconsciousness, to cover up a bad organization. It was thus on our place of work, for the concentrated phosphoric acid transfer, very much used into agro alimentary. It was stored in glass carboys at the ground level and was conveyed from level in level, up to the point highest, by very narrow extremely sloping metallic staircases. Two young women, provided with a kind of stretcher in wooden designed to carry the heavy container, often climbed the whole level from bottom until in top. The first climbed backwards doubled up, with the handles of the stretcher under her feet, and the other tiptoed up the stairs the arms aloft to lose the breath, tried to keep a minimum horizontality to the whole, so that the glass carboy not even attached does not topple. If by misfortunes this one was fallen over, the woman from underneath and those who were working on the lower levels, could have been very seriously burned by acid projections. After this perilous exercise, when it just was question of pouring this acid smoking in the system conceived for this purpose, the "movie direction" of the perfect security was respected.
By chance I was never witness of an accident, although statistically this one was inevitable. Writing that, I evidently think about these unhappy women who one day or the other were going to die or should live disfigured forever, and men became blind by acid burns. Worse yet are all these radioactive storages among the most dangerous for planet, which can always exist in these countries, but what to do in front of this stupidity? At the time when the man could have had some interests to act, the motivation did not exist already any more, then now that they are nothing any more than storages without valor compared with the daily survival need... I don't know the current circumstances, but I readily imagine. All these absurd conditions were lived by the women in particular. I can't guarantee if in all Soviet Union, it was thus, but it seems that the case was generalized. In "woman’s equality" such, nothing differentiated them any more of the men, if it isn't a condition whose Galla brought back me the facts, attached as to them, only at the femininity. Having assimilated it to the uprightness lack from only one man, more than with the system's faults, she had brought back to me the facts with a certain rancor. An obstetrician whose she had needed the services a few years before, was the center.
The abortion was free and gratis, and had been a day pregnant, she had gone directly to the hospital where no problem had arisen. This doctor had received her and had informed her from the little the legal care in ratio of the needs for this kind of intervention represented. She could however if she wished it, to be the subject of useful complementary care, but they would cost her twenty rubles cash. The workman's monthly wages were then of one hundred four rubles. She was perfectly conscious of trickery, convinced in that she would obtain the only care to which she had right, but had paid by fear of receiving only an half. The same day, by fear of always possible complications, four other women had accepted the bargaining.
Calculation is fast, by illegal means, this doctor had gotten in only one day, the workman's monthly wage. Some will see there perhaps only one illegal means in this context, practiced almost legally everywhere in the world in the private environment. The difference came however much more in the possibilities of spending this money, than the fraudulent manner to earn it. Any importance purchase was indeed subjected to the priority system. Those having priority were as we already saw, the eminent members of the Communist Party, the militia and the army. For this "small surgeon" of countryside, like for any other workman, it was thus impossible for him to use this swindled money, for some house purchase or vehicle, not even to live in a way more luxurious than others. It would have been necessary for that, this luxury have been available in the stores in which he had right access as no priority. The only stores where the money made it possible to freely buy being the berioskas1, it was necessary for that, have got the foreign currencies. He have thus to spend this daily fortune only the black market and the: Vodka!
This man whose "fortune" was until he didn't know to do of it, thus devoted himself to alcohol between friends and especially women-
It is through these people, those corrupt having priority found their purchasers and could amass colossal fortunes in a flourishing black market; but it is since this kind of structure as the market of free exchange developed, and between the hands of these evil characters which are today a lot of Russian fortunes. At the time of my first stay I had thus exchanged two jeans with an "automobile driver" for three hundred rubles, that is, with the official exchange of the time, two thousand four hundred francs (360 euros), which they still resold the double.
If I wrote, automobile driver between quotation marks, it is for emphasizing well, as if he were an automobile driver, he was having priority and what's more corrupted. I saw him moreover only hardly, the value being concluded in advance, and the exchange like for robbers, being made by the open pane of the car, at nightfall.
Perhaps some understand better why enormous Soviet fortunes now invade the French Riviera, but also what represents the bases of the new Russian capitalism.
1) Berioska: Stores reserved to the only customers who had possibility of paying in foreign currencies. They were located close to the tourism centers, and were the subject of many covetousness. It was there major part of the products for human consumption which missed elsewhere. The Muscovite taxi drivers for example, made exchange to the black market with the tourists at a very interesting rate, and thus developed a parallel trade. I had the advisability of drinking freeze-
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