Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Italy – CCVII. Our Daily Life (16 of 19)

The Palachi managed to accomplish two difficult feats.

Henri was able to secure a job. The position was not even close to what he used to have; he held an executive position with many people reporting to him. He was now going to be a storekeeper. The work entailed more than providing the needed parts; he had to keep track of the available stock; and reorder when the inventory was running low. In order words, it was storekeeping, inventory control, and purchasing agent all rolled into one. That said, he was recognized as a storekeeper only and paid as such.

In the Italy of the ’50s, you had to be insane to refuse any reasonable job offer, even if it is clear that your future employer is taking advantage of your skills without paying you adequately. And Henri was definitely a sane man! Not only did he take the position, but we all celebrated, for this didn’t happen without him moving heaven and earth.

He started by asking Signor Levy endless questions. How do I look for work? Who hires in Genoa? What do I need to prepare in advance? For example, his previous job description, references, and names of people who knew him and were at this time in Genoa. Keep in mind that resumes didn’t exist at that time (not in Italy at any rate). When Levy didn’t have answers to his questions, he asked other members of the Jewish Community.

Diners at La Veloce were the targets of his questions. And he got very useful tips and leads from them; especially regarding approaching employers, and interviews. He dutifully wrote everything down.

I need not remind you that the internet didn’t exist back then; the existing computers were just overgrown toddlers! Ads in the paper were almost non-existent. So how did you hire? You relied on word-of-mouth, and you started by asking your employees if they knew a person who possessed the required skills. Or it could be a sign nailed to the door or window. Or it might be via a cold call. Henri relied on all that.

Contacts didn’t get him anywhere. Signs were mainly for lower level work. Thus he consulted the phone directory, and walked to many (remotely) possible employers. It kept him healthy, but didn’t yield any results!

But he persisted. He was always impeccably dressed, and carried all relevant documents in a beautiful briefcase.

Sadly, all he heard was,”ci dispiace, non siamo di assunzione.” (We are sorry, we are not hiring). On some occasions, a secretary took his particulars, and promised to call back. Needless to say, nobody called.

And then one day it happened. The owner of a small manufacturing company told him to sit down. The more they talked, the more impressed she was. She was amazed at his Italian; valued his command of French and English; and couldn’t believe that he had translated many of his documents to Italian, and notarized the important ones.

She called two managers, and the four of them talked for what seemed an eternity. They described the individual they were looking for, and frankly admitted that he had the required qualifications. They pointed out that while they were looking for a storekeeper, more would be expected from him, since he was such a competent individual. The salary would be modest at the beginning, but they stated that after he proved his worth, his pay would substantially improve.

Henri said “Amen” to all their requests. Finally, he heard the magic phrase: “When can you start?”

The details (as provided by Henri) of his efforts to find work, and the interview with this employer can fill pages. But space does not permit me to relate everything, therefore, I will stop here.

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