Sunday, November 15, 2009

Remembering the fall: a story of the aftermath

Here's a little story I meant to share with you last week but never got around to posting it. It does not directly involve my memory of the fall of communism but has to do with the aftermath of the Fall and the way it affected my family. The story is an excerpt of my short story We don't eat shrimp that I wrote for the Harvest Baskets anthology that I mentioned a few months ago.

Mom lost her job in 1992. She had been working at the same electronics plant for upwards of ten years, so it came as a big surprise to her. She had really liked it there. It was a state-of-the-art facility producing knock-offs of Western micro-electronic components that would then be exported to other countries within the Soviet bloc. It was a good use of her degree (she had studied chemical engineering in the university) and she got to wear what looked like a white ninja suit. She liked her job because all her co-workers were engineers like her, and they got their monthly salary direct-deposited into their bank-accounts. Most other Bulgarians had to stand in long lines to get their salary in cash and, after they had waited for an hour, the cashier would tell everyone That's it for today, come back tomorrow. Mom also liked her job because she made a lot of money doing it. She made more than Dad who was also an engineer but worked in a different plant. When she lost her job, she cried for weeks.

The Unemployment Bureau sent her to a continuing education course to learn about Microsoft Word. There were no computers in the classroom at the learning center, and the instructor drew command buttons on a blackboard with chalk. Then he would dictate orders of operation. You make a selection and then you click on the "cut" button, that's right, the one with the scissors that I just drew. That will remove the selected text from your document and make a copy of it on the clipboard. What is a clipboard? Well that's a little bit hard to draw now, isn't it? And so he would continue. When the computer course was over, she had no job, a husband with an average salary, two daughters, and no knowledge of Microsoft Word.

I am no longer seeking out stories for this series but if you still want to share yours, I would be more than happy to post it. Also, if you will, please become a Follower of this blog. It helps me keep track of who's reading and provides a fun way for you guys to get to know each other!


  1. You're a very eloquent story teller. Who wants to read the whole story now [*raises hand*]? :)
    I like the Remembering series a lot. I myself don't remember the day very well. I have this memory, though, that, I think, will remain in my mind forever:
    One evening on this mmm, how to put it - program - Televizionen Spravochnik (TV Guide?), the hostess announced that Todor Zhivkov had fallen from power. Now I was only five years old at the time, and didn't understand anything about politics, hated the news :). But this time I must have felt I had seen some important stuff because I up and ran to the kitchen to tell my mother about it. That's how she found out, from me. I was proud as hell then too, to be the bearer of this exciting piece of news, because I saw by my mother's reaction that indeed something extraordinary had happened.
    It's one of the few memories I have from that early age, and I really cherish it.

  2. Ha! I'm glad you liked the story and for sharing yours. Also, BIG thanks for reminding me of "Televizionen spravochnik" hahahaha

  3. Petya, I want to read the whole story! You should post it.