The anorexic, ex-ballerina from Poland quit today. I had swung by work to ask some pesky questions regarding my pay and noticed that the stand next to ours was un-staffed. There were pastry, truffle and some salad packaged up and ready to go, but who was selling it? Ten minutes, how long I'd already been at work, seemed a long time for a pee/coffee/phone call break. I went around to the cash register and saw a sign reading: Selbstbedienung! There stood a wee pot next to the sign that I assumed would be for those honest enough to pay once they'd served themselves.
Knowing what I do about how over-worked and underpaid the dancer was I am certainly not surprised to not see her anymore. B., the woman (also Polish) working the stand before her, was a devout Catholic with an engineering degree and a mathematics teaching credential. She had been unsuccessful finding suitable employment back in Poland, so she'd come to Zurich to stay with her sister and try her luck here. She managed to last ten days before seemingly abruptly quitting, leaving no forwarding address. B. had worked ten ten-hour days, six days in a row before one day off, for which she had not yet been paid. I often saw her praying while sitting behind the counter, holding her rosary beads in one hand. The owners had promised her help in obtaining a 'B' permit in order for her to legally stay and work here in CH. They were dragging their heels on said help while trying to convince her to sign a work contract entitling her to something like 800 CHF for a month of work, or something like that. She balked, and, in the end, just bailed out sans paycheck. Before she left she told me of possible work in her field of study up in Norway. She intended to look into it, at any rate. The last I heard B. was briefly back in Poland visiting family.
As I was leaving work I ran into a man who has been concerned about the ballerina's plight at the shop. He'd urged her to file a complaint about her maltreatment by her employers. She was more than reluctant to do so. Taking them on without a fall-back plan did seem a bit like self-sabotage. Without a new job to go to and very little social support around her she wasn't inclined to rock the boat, she'd told me. I understood. I told the man all these things to which he replied, 'well, someone has to do something!' Well, yes, but who will? The dancer was now out of the equation, and, hopefully, had found suitable replacement work somewhere less inhumane. The question I now have is who will be coming in to replace her? Will she also be a foreign national? What sort of permit, if any, will she hold?
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