Not Serious Advice Taken Seriously

by Steven van Groningen on 21 October, 2010

My first job in Romania was in 1993 when I worked for one year at the National Bank of Romania as consultant on the modernisation of the Romanain payment system. I was not new to Romania, having visited the country for the first time in 1985 and being married to my Romanian wife since 1986 and already spoke decent Romanian. More about me on this page. Nevertheless, it was my fist working experience in Romania and not long after I arrived someone volunteered to explain me how things worked in Romania. He told me a joke with some “advice” on avoiding to take any responsibility. It went more or less like this :

1. Don’t think.

2. If you think, don’t tell anyone.

3. If you tell someone, don’t write it down.

4. If you write it down, don’t sign it.

5. If you sign it, deny it.

6. If you cannot deny signing it, claim you didn’t know what you were signing.

The list was longer, but I forgot the rest.

I was reminded of this today, when I read in the papers that the Chamber of Deputies approved measures with a negative impact on the budget of 1 billion EUR and afterwards motivated this by saying they didn’t know what they were voting for. It gives an interesting insight in the way some people interpret they role in a democracy.

Maybe it wasn’t a joke after all……

It strengthens me in my belief, expressed in this earlier post, that we need a much better law making processes with proper consultation and impact analysis

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

bizzar October 21, 2010 at 19:08

This is not denial, it is defiance. If it’s a joke, I’m sad to say it’s on us…


Maximilian October 21, 2010 at 20:55

I don’t know if you already read some of Caragiale’s work, but if you did/will, you will surely notice a pattern…his stories couldn’t be more closer to the truth, and sadly, are still valid to this day.


SvG October 21, 2010 at 21:07

I have heard a lot about Caragiale but to my shame have not read any of his works yet. What is a good book to start with ?


Matei October 22, 2010 at 01:04

I’d have to say “O scrisoare pierdută”, it’s probably his most significant work (also a play). Caragiale is best known as a playwright, so most of his works are pretty short (and enjoyable) reads. I should warn you though that this also means that they’re all dialogue and the language is somewhat archaic and full of jargon.

Alternatively, you should try seeing one of his plays at the theater. There’s almost always something by Caragiale playing somewhere =)


Luminita November 1, 2010 at 13:11

Vai, vai,vai! n-ati citit operele lui Caragiale? Imediat sa va apucati de citit, e un ordin! glumesc, nu va impacientati stimabile! cand terminati cu teoria (operele lui Caragiale), atunci dati drumul la TV-eu sa vedeti pe viu, transpunerea in natura a celor citite!
Mult succes!


SvG November 1, 2010 at 18:19

Va promit ca cartea urmatoarea pe care o voi citi va fi o opera lui Caragiale. (Admit ca educatia mea nu este perfecta). La TV nu ma uit niciodata.


Maximilian October 21, 2010 at 22:02

Not really sure what to recommend. Perhaps first you should read some Bio on Caragiale (see his background, beliefs and so on). Then, maybe read “Conu Leonida față cu reacțiunea” which is a nice comedy written for theater (actually, all of his comedies are reflecting the social and political condition of past times, and present as I said). In the end, you could read some of his published articles (wikipedia is quite generous with some of them).
Some say, that his statue, in front of the National Theater, is still keeping an eye on us and he’s still laughing at our…well… naivety let’s say


Juan Huitz November 2, 2010 at 08:08

They do this on purpose! I should have known.

Romania is my fourth C. and E. European country where I have been posted. Before I began I kind of lumped all of them together, but now realize that each has it’s own… special practices. Indecesion certainly ranks high in Romania.

Another of one of my favorites, decesions are generally taken by concensus, usually involving parties that have nothing to do with the outcome. Very smart, later you have no idea who to fire.

This is very frustrating, not good for my health. My unease brought the following additional advise, it is best if you don’t care. Sigh.


SvG November 2, 2010 at 22:02

Not caring – if you can – might be better for your health, not better for your life. I can see you care too.


Ruxandra Nica November 26, 2010 at 22:35

i sincerely admire you for speaking outloud about our mentality and i frankly dont understand why we are so stubborn in keeping our ‘good old habbits’? As I see it, people by nature have always been stubborn beings, humans are proud beings. Some don’t worry about pride as much, and others are controlled by it. Stubborn people are often immature, thinking their way is the right way and think your stupid for disagreeing. And stubborn people tend to be more self conscious or they just like to argue to get attention. From my point of view pride will stop people from doing the right thing, too much pride will make someone self-centered Those people need to admit their stubbornness and work harder on being more understanding. Very prideful people have to let go off some of their pride, but it’s still important to keep a healthy amount to stand up for yourself and beliefs. as far as i can see things, stubborness is our weakpoint even if i was expecting new generations to become more ‘attracted’ and open to the western approaches.I’m in my 30’s and i’m amazed to see that people my age or younger keep the same mentality of ‘merge si asa’ (i hope you understand the meaning). i’m working in banking aswell, i read your interesting postings becouse i find it really ‘healthy in an unhealthy system’ and i’m trying constantly to change that, to make a difference that will help us all in longterm cos right now we are not doing things right and we see that in our customers’ loyalty and satisfaction. maybe you will find it overreated but i have a great satisfaction when customers that came in my branch for 20 years say now to me that is the first time when they see someone smiling to them and now they feel like coming home, like family. So, my point is, why is so hard to understand that is so simple , natural and rewarding in everyway to do things right? PS i’m not applying for a job, even if an offer wouldn hurt! i am joking becouse i know you have the sense of humour! Thank you for being so open and let everyone being in touch with you! All the best!


SvG November 26, 2010 at 22:52

Thank you for your comments and encouragement !


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