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Issue 3/2007, February 15 2007 (No. 231)

German version
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Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, U.S. wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth.
From 'Two Americas' by Jim Webb, The Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2006

For a few years more and more companies have opened up, which almost any time of the day deliver such things, which hundred years ago awe-inspiring bearded uniformed officials delivered possibly three times a day. Those couriers don't sport a beard no more because women are nowadays also allowed to work for such delivery services. Above all the couriers of commercial delivery services don't also sport a uniform no more. They at most wear an anorak or a jump suit which has the same style. The employees of some companies wear private clothes at work.
If you can't recognize those couriers by a uniform no more, you have to find another method to recognize them. I recognize them by their wry smile. They are smiling this way when they are delivering letters and parcels. I encountered a courier, who gave me a wry smile, in a suburb a few weeks ago. The woman was about fifty years old. We had a small chat and in the end I had a faint idea of the mental power which was pulling down one corner of her mouth and raising up the other one.
She had been unemployed for a time. For a few days she had been working for such a commercial delivery service. That was sounding good. But the wry smile didn't fade. She had something to do, but she got no wages. She had to work as an unpaid trainee for a few weeks. After that practical training period she would probably get an employment contract. I didn't dare to inquire of her for her future wages.
A few days later I encountered another about fifty-year-old courier in another suburb. He also gave me a wry smile and blabbed out his hourly wage. He got six Euros. And then he suddenly railed that he couldn't support his family by his work. A few days later a businesswoman, who had also met this courier, told me that he had been unemployed for a long time. He had told her that he was happy about his new employment contract.
Neglected postboxes
Neglected postboxes
A few days ago I encountered a young woman who also worked for such a commercial delivery service. She openly told me that her gross hourly wage was six Euros and fifty Eurocents. She had a 24-hour working week. She told me that she could only just earn her living by her work, if she had a 36-hour working week. And she added with a wry smile that the order situation of the company was fortunately getting better day by day.
I checked that the young woman got 670 Euros as a gross payment per month. The very modest and reasonable little studio flat, in which my wife lived before we got married, cost 370 Euros (including heating a.s.o) a few years ago.
(My wife Christine helped me to translate the text. Thanks.)

Please also read:

Revisited Places (15)  about an 'impoverished' suburb

Encounters 8

Charlie Dittmeier's article about Motordupe Drivers , Mission Notebook entry of June 21, 2003. The link leads to the latest entry of the notebook. Please scroll down.

Next issue 'The Daily Groove'
on Thursday, March 1 2007

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We would like to point out that we translated articles from German into English for the purpose of service. We would like to make it clear that the German translations are deciding, because the articles are directed to users who live in Germany.

Wir möchten darauf hinweisen, dass wir zu Servicezwecken englische Übersetzungen vorgenommen haben. Klarstellen möchten wir, dass maßgeblich die deutsche Übersetzung ist. Grund dessen ist, dass wir uns an in Deutschland ansässige Nutzer wenden.

Please also read Cats Talk (33)

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