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Tricolorul, sau, The Flag Story

This story has been in development for some time, but it's actually more interesting to write about it now that I can link it to a few more elements. Elements like 'Aha!-ness' for example.

There is a particular place in my neighbourhood that I walk by daily, and I can't help noticing that the two flags (EU and Romania) hanging over the main entrance are faded, dirty, wrapped around their respective poles, and in such a sad state overall that I'm willing to bet they haven't been changed since the day they were put up.

At first, I was like "whatever, typical". Then I realized something -actually, two things:
1. I accepted it, and
2. It didn't make any sense.

Part of the reason I was looking forward to moving here is that this is a country where people are more concerned with life than with trivial shit like getting fortune cookies at the end of a meal in a 24/7 Chinese restaurant. That's to say, I'm not exactly anal about most things, and I'm often a practitioner of the Romanian tradition that there's no need to worry, it's fine like that, too ("Las-o ca si asa-i bine").

But this really didn't make sense. First of all, you can't look at this abomination and say, "leave it, it's good like that, too", and secondly, I have to get into a bit of a rant before making this point: We, as Romanians, are huge complainers. Bitching is a national pastime, and sure there's a lot to bitch about not gonna lie, but in large part people bitch about the economy, about thieves (ie. corrupt government officials and other fat cats who spend all their ill-gotten gains on Audis and luxury homes), and about how it's always somebody else's fault the country is the way it is. Let me ask you something; What the hell does a politician, a filthy thief, or our economy have to do with the way we treat our national flag? That's right, nothing. Once this hit me, I also realized I had to do something about it.

At the beginning of May, I went by the institution in question and its administration offices were closed. Obviously it took me another couple of weeks before I tried again, but this time I met a guy who directed me to the office of Domnul Administrator (mister administrator - the property manager). Domnul Administrator was possibly doing his rounds and unavailable, so I talked to the guy a bit, explaining my beef. He said "Hmm, yeah you're right, you're right." But he seemed pretty amused and gave me a weird look like, shouldn't I be worrying about other things (like the economy or thieves). He gave me the prop man's name and I told him I'd come by again, but that he could feel free to pass along my message. He just smiled.

A few days later, as I passed by the building, I saw that Domnul Administrator's door was wide open. It looked so welcoming that I had to go in and say hi.
As I walked towards the door I decided that I needed a smooth approach here. Romanians in general don't take kindly to criticism, particularly at the work place and especially from people who don't work there or aren't their boss. I knocked, though I could see inside already. It was straight out of the '80s. I swear, it was; lots of wooden furniture, no computer on the desk, smoke from the cigarette in an ashtray, and an overall Dallas vibe, except that Domnul Administrator didn't look like J.R. He looked more like a Commie.

As I knocked, he looked up, puzzled at the unknown gent darkening his doorway. His scribe (yep, he had a scribe) didn't even bother to glance from the forms he was filling out.

"Mr. Bodea?" I asked
"Yes, speak!" Well hello to you too, Tovarash Administrator.
"Hey, good to meet you, my name's Matt," I walked over to shake his hand, "I pass by here every day, you see, and I noticed the flags outside.."
"Yeah, what about 'em?" I could tell he was trying to figure me out, who I was, and what the hell am I doing talking to him about flags (there are people robbing the country!!!)
"Well, if possible I'd be happy to help, I mean they're dirty, old, wrapped around the pole, it just doesn't look very good..."
"Ok, so finish your idea."
"It's not so much an idea, but if I can help change them I'd be glad to...or maybe you can call somebody who takes care of these things."
"Right, I pass by there everyday and I didn't ever notice (A-ha!), but I'll think about what you told me. Yes, I'll think about it" And he offered his hand in dismissal.
"Alright then, thanks, bye" I said, and took my leave.

Will he do anything about it? I'll bet a million RON he won't, but at least he's noticed the flags now,  I'm sure of it.

Obviously, I'm not going to let this go though, so look out for an update.

An aside:

All I'm trying to do is use this story to draw a much bigger picture. This particular building is far from being the only institution in Romania that has dirty flags and jobsworth property managers. But I do want to bring awareness because it's a small detail that's part of a bigger issue. If you see something that bothers you, do something about it even if somebody else should be doing it, it's not like anybody will stop you, it's a free country (I know, hard to believe, but trust me it is).

Personally, I'm pissed off thinking of all the foreigners who come here and leave thinking it's a beautiful country, but shame about its ungrateful citizens who apparently don't have an ounce of national pride. Cubans are 1000 times poorer, but they don't mess around with their flag.


  1. Good for you, great approach and a good first step. Good luck with making a difference!

    1. Difference made! Check it out:


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