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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

August 11, 2011

What I learned from Costi

Yesterday, in the midst of the market’s mayhem (and in the midst of a family vacation), we had to call AAA for a battery jump.  The driver who arrived was named Costi, an immigrant from Roumania.  Costi’s story went a long ways to help me put our current financial and political challenges  in perspective.

An electrical engineer, Costi came to the US, five years ago at age 50 and speaking no English. He supported himself cleaning carpets while he learned English on tape and eventually landed his current, better, job as a driver for triple A.

Costi is a remarkably cheerful guy under circumstances that would have the average American bemoaning his fate.  Jailed for 18 months as a college student under Ceausescu, Costi lived through both good periods and bad under the Soviets and then independence.  At one point, his family received government rations of only a loaf of bread and 10 eggs a week for a family of four. He insisted that “Americans have no idea how lucky they are.  Here I am free and I can work.”  He added that his favorite thing was skiing and he settled at lake Tahoe so he could do just that.

“Everything’s going to be ok” were his parting words.

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