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Comment: Cutting the Crab

A board meeting had caused the wonderful side effect of having had to travel to Barcelona. As always in Spain, it was impossible to avoid numerous culinary temptations and with five colleagues, we want for a walk through the city after accomplished work and stopped at the restaurant and bar “Nacional”.  As the first place of this kind, you can choose from different specialties of the whole Kingdom in different areas of the place. We stopped at the seafood bar, where a very active and young lady was handling the whole unit. She opened oysters, served beverages, cashed in, and cut king crab legs. Her shift had started nine hours before and most of the time she serviced those thirty odd places all alone. Still smiling, she appreciated that we took over the even distribution of the wine amongst our corner. For whatever reason, we were informed she had to share tips with four other colleagues, which encouraged us to ensure that her stake would still be decent and keep her motivated. A country with 19% unemployment rate needs to make sure every job is kept and new ones are created. Still in 2017, the youth unemployment rate in Spain is at shocking 42%, but this is less than in previous years. Suddenly, the statistics had a face: the young lady so diligently defending her post and irradiating hospitality by working hard without blaming the guests for her effort was one of the 56% of lucky youngsters below 25 years who have a job.

Back in 2003, two thirds of the total assets of Spanish households were real estate. In 2006, the construction of more than 800’000 apartments in Spain was initiated, representing more than the total construction of apartments in Germany, France and Italy together. The rest is history: the bubble collapsed and the fairy tale of easy money for everybody vanished and an overall crisis hit the country very hard, enhancing nationalism, separatism and demolishing the hope for a better future amongst the young generation. Apparently, 18’524 applications for 11 job offers of the Prado Museum were sent and the misery and despair of individuals disappeared in faceless figures and statistics.

When we left the place, we saw a young man sitting in front of the entrance, passively begging for money with his paper cup, texting something in his mobile phone. I wasn’t sure if he was younger or older than 25 years. His dog kept him company and I was wondering if he someone else had already put him in contrast with the young waitress going through the laborious work of cutting the crab.

By Michael Reiss von Filski, global CEO, GGI / Geneva Group International

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