Tuesday, February 6, 2007


It's the third of January and outside I can hear the noises of the summer.Buenos Aires. Good Air.
I make myself a cup of coffee and get on the Internet.
I read the New Year's speech of the Czech president, who is constantly trying to impose his old ideas on the life of regular people.
Pissed off, I go to the balcony. Summer is in full swing. The summer holidays started a long time ago. I watch people jogging in the parks with hundred-year old beautiful trees.

I look at the concrete of the buildings behind the park. Concrete after concrete, as far as I can see.
I turn my email on and begin dealing with the stuff that needs to be solved over the phone.
I'm not going to the office because I'd lose an important hour of my time. This hour is super important for somebody who works for a Finnish company in Argentina. If I REALLY want to solve anything, I have to get a hold of the Finns before they leave for home. They're FIVE hours ahead of me!
I'm making phone calls and sending electronic data.
Usually, I manage to do everything I need to by eleven.
My boss calls me.
"Where are you?"
"Well, at home..."
"What? How come you're at home?!
"Well, why not, I'm home..."
"You're supposed to be at the office!"
"But I work..."
"Move it, when are you coming in?"
I pack my notebook and head out.
In the distance, I see the skyline of the commercial center and two towers, black copies of the Twin Towers in New York.
I have to switch the ventilation in my car to the internal circuit.
The well-conceived bus transportation system of GOOD AIR causes long lines of standing old buses with running engines.
I finally reach the parking garage.
"Como estás, MASTRE?"
I throw my car keys towards an Indian boy and walk to the office.
The streets are full of elegantly dressed women and men in suits.
It must be a part of the culture – whoever doesn't have a suit is a nobody.
I think about it when I'm waiting at the intersection. The noise is so loud I can't hear people talking just a couple feet away from me.
The light turns green.
None of the pedestrians move. Nobody wants to throw his life away.
Buses and cars are racing across the crossing even though the light is green for the pedestrians.
Too bad for a European who expects the same as at home, for example cars yielding to pedestrians.
I know I have about fifteen seconds to run across the hundred-meter wide street.
When I get two-thirds across, the light starts blinking red.
I hear the drivers stepping on the gas pedals, getting ready to let the clutch go as soon as possible. I'm running as always, as fast as I can. I make a great leap to overcome the last few meters.
Just in time. The cars are speeding just behind me.
I wipe the sweat off my forehead and enter the tower.
My boss Anders shakes my hand and smiles.
"Remember, you've got to be POSITIVE."
"Look, Anders, there're times you've got to be NEGATIVE towards somebody, especially in this part of the world."
"No, you must be positive," he says and disappears to make deals worth millions of dollars.
I start working and suddenly spot Onur entering the office where a hundred people sit in ten rows.
It's because the Argentineans kiss each other when they see their friends. It's ok when it's a man with a woman. However, the problem is they do it even when they are two men.
Since I don't feel good when a man touches me, I'm getting a little nervous that Onur will make it all the way to me.
Onur is quickly coming closer, row by row.
He shakes my hand and hugs me.
I have to hold on to my desk, even though I'm actually sitting.
"Que pasa?"
"NADA, nada...estoy cansado." Nothing, I'm tired, I say.
"Ivan, let's go for lunch!"
"Ok." I look at the pile of work in front of me. I know that I won't do anything else after lunch.
Lunches last two, sometimes even two and half hours.
To get out of the cold skyscrapers into the heat of the street is pleasant. It's warm outside, not freezing like in… inside the skyscraper.
Once in the bar, the traditional war of nerves starts. To catch the waiter's eye is an act of art that even the locals haven't mastered. Just like under the commies in those establishments which used to be supervised, from the post of deputy minister, by today's Czech prime minister.
They look at everything but you.
Beef is a NECESSITY and desert is a must.
I look nervously at my watch. I have the feeling of losing a terrible amount of time. We've been at lunch already two hours...
We come back to the office at three.
I take an office coffee and, through a glass wall, watch boats entering the port.
I'm looking at the water.
It's brown, dirty, and without waves. It's a river but also a sea. A river's estuary a hundred miles wide. You can't swim in it. I went to the docks once and the water was bubbling in decay.
The meeting starts at four. We'll get together and call our colleagues inland.
We take care of a territory as big as Western Europe plus a piece of the Apennine Peninsula but, thanks to modern technology, we don't need to be everywhere. Everything important is said in just about one hour.
It's good that everybody keeps to the point. Well, who'd want to be at a meeting longer than an hour!
I go back to my desk and pass by Anders.
"Are you working positively?" he asks me importantly.
"Of course, I'm as positive as a neutron!" I reply.
Anders makes a disagreeable face and walks away.
I collapse into my chair.
I usually stay at the office until about eight. When I'm leaving, Anders waves at me from the glassed room.
In the pub, I have a tuna salad for dinner and watch TV. Maradona on the screen is pissed. It seems that he was arrested in Brazil. I get scared it could start a war.
With my head full of black thoughts, I climb into the bar on the corner.
Vero is the owner. Kissing with her is incomparably more pleasant than with Onur.
"What happened with Diego?" I ask worriedly.
"Nothing really, he got lost at the Rio de Janeiro airport and then, extrovertly, wanted them to stop the departing plane, so they arrested him for three hours."
"I see," I calm down, finish my beer, and go to bed.
It'll be THE SAME tomorrow, but that's OK.

Published in czech magazine RESPEKT in March 2006.

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