Irish workers head overseas for jobs

Oct 4 2010
Irish workers head overseas for jobs

“When the (Irish) economy became the fastest growing in Europe, the Irish diaspora headed home, to be followed by an influx of workers from countries such as Poland and Lithuania. With the jobless rate now running at 13.6%, for many Irish workers the only option once again is to look abroad.” Henry McDonald, Age Sat October 2, 2010.
We broke the trend when we went to live and write in Ireland. However, it was evident that things were in a bad way economically as development had literally stopped over night. Cranes and hoardings were left on building sites as it was cheaper to leave them there than to store them. Near where we lived a brand new hotel, new furniture and fittings lay abandoned; it was a week out from opening when the crash came and so the rooms were never used. Little by little it fell victim to the vandals.
However the Polish workers were still there and kept most of the jobs because it was they who drove the buses, worked the checkouts and cleaned the streets. This is a poem written by Graeme after an encounter with a diffident Polish check out chick at the local Aldi store.

Super efficient Polish girl

Super efficient Polish girl
On the till at the Aldi store
The new one at Tallaght
Where no-one goes, for sure
Part of a Tiger development
That has crashed through to the floor
The cranes do not swing
The concrete does not pour

Two sparkling new hotels
With rooms never used
Empty apartment blocks
Now being abused
A vast open plaza
Looks sad and confused
The figures must’ve been good
Aldi must now be bemused

Customers are not coming
The place quite as a mouse
Yet you can get anything you want
For the garden or the house
From a salmon to a cider
From a biscuit to a blouse
At prices so tempting
You almost feel a louse

Super efficient Polish girl
Operating the only line
Five others remain silent
Biding their register time
It’s all so spooky
It feels like a crime
As I pile things on the conveyor
It’s easy to see which are mine

Super efficient Polish girl
Totes up what I have bought
Whips them through at a pace
I’ve hardly time to sort
And throw them in the trolley
The long, the round, the short
She does it with such skill
She’s made it a Speed Sport

“How are you today?”
I say to try and break the pace
She looks kindly up at me
A slight smile upon her face
A touch of student intellectual
A hint of old-fashioned grace
“Having wonderful time,” she purrs
“I just love this place.”

Her voice cuts through the store
This cavernous retail hole
I go to pay for my goods
Producing the old bank roll
I like her approach, her spirit
Her attitude, her soul
“Good to hear,” I say,
“Someone who enjoys their role.”

She suddenly looks at me coldly
I feel I’m about to croak
Or have a heart attack
Or possibly a stroke
Our bond has disappeared
In a puff of Celtic smoke
Super efficient Polish girl
Says icily, “It was joke …”
- Graeme Johnstone, Dublin, 2009.