Thursday, 8 February 2018

The cat in me


There is a tall tree in one of my neighbour’s gardens. A young, male cat keeps on climbing into the tree and getting stuck there.
It is the way cats are. They like to climb up trees so that they can look down and oversee everything.

1970, I am 24, living in Amsterdam, have no money and I need a job.
People said try the docks in the north of the city.

I had some painting experience, so I went to the site hut of a company that painted ships.
They were working on an oil tanker for Shell. 
I took my girlfriend along for support. I thought that might help, as she spoke Dutch and had the kind of looks that turn men’s heads.
When we walked in the men stopped work and came over to talk to us. I was not used to such a positive reception
My girlfriend flashed her smile, fluttered her eyelashes, and I had a job.

Two groups of workers were employed there: the Dutch and “guest workers” from the Rif region of Morocco. How much you earned was determined by a differentiated pay scale. Only the Dutch were given the higher-paid jobs.

During a break, I saw two Dutchmen and two guest workers sitting opposite each other on crates. One of the Dutchmen had a map.  He asked the guest workers to show where Morocco was on the map. They could not. The Dutchmen said they were dumb and laughed at them.

As I was standing, I was looking down at all four of them. I smiled and thought to myself, all of you are dumb fuckers to me.
Over the years I have developed the same looking down attitude to much of Dutch society.
You may think I am arrogant.
So be it. It is the cat in me. The way I am.
Miaow.

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