Sissy Nation (12)
Archived Articles 14 May 2008  EWR
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(A polite preemptive strike, asking for constructive remarks from our readers, anonymous sniping discouraged. The following is from, a site known for both humour as well as addressing genuine social issues in the Baltic Republics.)

Spoiled rotten Estonian kids

"So what's the job?" asked the young man standing in my yard.
"You see that pile of rocks? You pick them up, carry them 100 meters, put them down again."
"That's a lot of rocks," said the kid.
"Yep," I agreed. "At least two day's work."
The kid looked at the rocks. He looked at his friend. They chatted a bit between them. "No," he said. "We could hurt our backs."

And with that the two 15-year-olds went off to seek more appropriate positions befitting their impressive educations. I understand they are now both CEOs of major international companies.

Finding temporary workers in Estonia is a thankless exercise. And the government doesn't help. If you wish to do things legally, the Estonian law requires contracts be written with children, including a document with the formal consent of their parents. Children may not do work which requires "heavy physical or mental stress." In agricultural settings they may plant flowers, but no clearing fields of tree stumps. In factory settings they may do "simple assistant-work." They may sell ice-cream on the beach, but not more than six hours per day. They may not may not may not may not. What kind of a nation of sissies are we creating?

"Eestlane on töökas" is a favorite refrain of the Estonian population. They consider themselves hard-working and industrious people. Compared to what? I'd like to know. Compared to Soviet times? Sure. Compared to the West? That's a simple no. An Estonian works hard when he's in his own garden. But when he's working for The Man, that's still a different matter. He's always asking--and requiring you to explain--how this teamwork business and work for the company actually benefits him. "Well," you say, "when the company makes money, then you have a chance of making more. "Put it in the contract," he says. It wouldn't be an unreasonable request were he top management. But he's 22 years old.

This attitude trickles down through all levels of society and reaches the kids. Money comes easy so why work hard for it? Isn't this what capitalism is all about? Of course, not all Estonian kids are spoiled rotten by mummy and daddy. Some of them actually need to earn money. Or so I've heard. I haven't actually met one of them. But if you, dear reader, run across any of those, won't you send them my way? That pile of rocks in my yard hasn't moved in an entire year.

-Vello Vikerkaar, 13.05.2008-

(VV is a Canadian-Estonian who has been living in Eesti for some time, and understandably, uses a nom-de-plume.)
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