POET AND CRANE OPERATOR AT DAMEN SHIPYARDS GALATI, ROMANIA
47 YEARS OLD AND MARRIED TO VASILICA
THREE DAUGHTERS: GABRIELA (21), MIHAELA (16) AND MIRELA (9)
THE JSS AS HIS FAVOURITE DAMEN SHIP
“When I am inspired, I immediately start writing, no matter what time of day it is or where I happen to be. Poetry is a medicine for me: it was all that kept me going when I was temporarily working in Israel 20 years ago, when I was all alone and missing my family. Through my poetry, I try to transform something ugly into something beautiful; life may not always be easy, but is too short to be unhappy. I no longer publish my poems anonymously, for which I’m mostly grateful to Damen.
Tuesday, 12 July 1983, was my very first day at the yard in Galati, where I started out as a rigger. I had never before thought of a career in shipbuilding; I’m from a tiny village – Ivanesti – and I had never been in a real city before, let alone a huge shipyard. It was really hard at first – being without my parents and my eleven brothers and sisters – but I’ve never regretted my choice to leave. In the nineties, I starting working as a crane operator, and I am still travelling back and forth to the shipyard every day.
The biggest challenges I faced in that job were high winds, storms, and learning to coordinate my activities with those of my colleagues. I get along well with my colleagues – they are – as we say in Romania – like the five fingers of a hand: all different but strongest when they work together. The helping hand you can count on. If one of them is tired or troubled, I try to cheer him up using humour. I might ask if we can see Moscow if we’re sitting in the cabin of the crane, or pretend that we’re having a power failure.
On my days off, I go to church, read the Bible, and help my family and friends with anything they need. If I have time leftover, I like playing football or table football – and I win a lot because when I was a kid I was unbeatable on the football pitch! Afterwards, I enjoy a good meal with my wife and daughters – preferably a bean casserole, tripe soup or Russian salad – and tell stories from my youth, write, or share a joke. For me there’s no real difference between a day off and a day I work – I enjoy them both equally.”