Let’s stop finding it normal that young people live in misery and hardship

Let’s stop finding it normal that young people live in misery and hardship
Let’s stop finding it normal that young people live in misery and hardship

I don’t listen to old songs that much, but the other day I heard Cuando era more young [“Quand j’étais plus jeune”] by Joaquín Sabina – quite a piece, in fact -, and it chilled me: what he says is atrocious from start to finish, who can want the poverty-stricken youth that he tells about?

It made me think of my friend Álvaro, who works for a surveillance company as an alarm installer – paid on commission, of course. Álvaro told me that he was at the end of his rope, exhausted, and that he had no improvement in sight, that he worked hours and hours, sometimes more than sixty hours a week, and that nothing changed. He wears out his hands at work (and by crossing his fingers) in the hope of winning his com’, all in vain, given that despite his salary and his extras in the black market he remains poor. He feels like he is in a tunnel to which he cannot see the end, in front of a blind wall bristling with plaster against which he only bumps, and it hurts.

However, what drives Álvaro crazy, even more than his situation, is what his parents and those around him tell him. When he explains to friends, especially older ones, that he kills himself working from morning to night without being able to afford anything better than a ridiculous room at the end of the corridor of a damp apartment in the city center. town, not only do they not sympathize, but they find it romantic.

Survive on three francs six sous

They fantasize both the poverty and the frustrations of Álvaro, his energy and his determination, his extra hours of work and his insomnia thinking about his overdraft and his owner. They romanticize his youth, his twenty somethings, his muscular pectorals, but also his determination to get out of there when, let’s be realistic, there is very little chance that Álvaro will ever get out of this mess.

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