invisible stories

They work for us!

Home office means not leaving our home. For many it is necessary because they are in quarantine, others are looking after their small children and let’s not forget about our senior citizens who are not supposed to go shopping every day either. The solution: let’s order online! Just a few clicks in front of our computer and voila: our basket is full of food, hankies or bathroom tissues. And then the phone rings and the package is delivered. Who should we feel thankful for? Those who, despite the pandemic, get up to go to the warehouses, prepare our orders and embellish the stocks. One of them is Csilla Molnár, group leader of the online drugstore department of Rossman’s central warehouse.

‘We need to work in two shifts to handle the orders’, said Csilla. ‘I come in at 7 o’clock to be able to spend time with both shifts. I get in the car at Pilis to leave for Üllő and usually I make it in 15 minutes. What have we experienced in the past weeks? When the first bits of news arrived about the Chinese pandemic, our company already started to implement preventive measures: we were given rubber gloves, masks and sanitizers, the canteen was cleaned several times in an attempt to protect us. I have been working here for 16 years and I have always felt the love but it felt especially nice when they gave me a sanitizer for home use. I felt appreciated, I felt my work is not only counted on, I am also protected from harm. The number of orders started to rise when we got news about the first domestic infections, but in the past two weeks we have experienced a real spike. Sanitizers and paperware are the most sought after items. Moms want diapers and wet tissues with home delivery.’

Csilla’s work is manifold: while incoming orders are prepared, checked and packaged, she is monitoring the stocks and keeping track of the shipment on the computer. But how does she feel about the dangers of going to work everyday?

‘I do everything I can for my health and I go to work. It is mostly my parents who are worried but I try to calm them down every day. Fortunately, I don’t have to use public transportation.’

“If the alarm goes off, we rush away!”

District 3 Fire Department squad leader Papp Zoltán came from the army to join the firefighters. It’s been 14 years…

‘As a child, I wanted to be a soldier and so I did, but then a friend of mine joined the firefighters and I followed him. Just like in the army, there are rules here and the official protocol must be observed. Just like in the army, if necessary, you have to give your life to save somebody’s. And yet, these are two different jobs. From our perspective, the coronavirus was no change in the sense that if the alarm goes off, we rush away all the same. Whether it’s an accident, a fire or a fallen tree, in two minutes we are in full gear ready to approach the situation area. The community is strong, we work for each other. We often take serious risks and we are ready to put ourselves in danger or sacrifice our life for total strangers. But we do our job and do not think of this possibility. My sweetheart and I have been living together for 20 years and at first my profession caused great concerns in the family but they have come to terms with that by now. In the morning I always say goodbye to my children and when I get home, I leave work outside. I don’t tell them what I saw or where I was deployed. The moment I step out of my 24-hour shift, I enter my civilian life. But to tell the truth, my daughter’s favourite tale is Sam, the fireman…’

“Hurry, disinfection required!”

Mrs Piroska Bordás Antal cleans a hospital in Budapest 5 days a week. Sometimes at weekends too or if there is an emergency or if one of her colleagues can’t take up work. She gets up at half past 3 to get in her workplace and start her 6-o’clock shift. She lives in the countryside, she has been working as a cleaner for 22 years, and she is an employee of B+N Referencia Zrt.

‘Back in the day a friend of mine convinced me to start cleaning saying it was not a bad job. I did so, tried it and have been here ever since’, said Piroska. ‘Before going in my work area, I change clothes, pick up the tools and then the mop. The department where I have been so far has 42 beds but I was also responsible for the doctor’s offices, the dressing rooms, the elevator and its hall and the corridor. The daily routine of thorough cleaning and disinfection was occasionally interrupted by an accident in one of the sick-wards. After a surgery, with bedridden patients compelled to use a urinal vessel… The most difficult part is when it happens at the end of my shift when I am more tired, but they call me over in a hurry to disinfect a patient’s surroundings. I have been a widow for more than 10 years, I live alone. My children have accepted that I am going to work and although they are worried about me, they are proud of me for helping others. I am not ashamed to be a cleaner, it gives me strength when they praise my work. Last time a country patient told me: the room is as clean as in a countryside guesthouse. If somebody looks down on me, and it happens sometimes, it hurts a lot. Many people think cleaning is not a real job, something they do at home too. But here you have to do it on the clock, on a large scale and yet professionally, I cannot watch my favourite series on TV while mopping the floor. In addition, I have to touch things that would make others feel disgusted. But the truth is anyone can get into a vulnerable situation… By the end of the day my legs get tired from a whole day’s standing, but I try to be available. Maybe as a consequence of the coronavirus more people will notice us and more people will appreciate the work we do.