My European Dream Come True

In 2006, I escaped from Lebanon to Bulgaria during the Hezbollah-Israel war. I was working there for about six months at a local water treatment contracting company. I was the only chemist there, so I made some contributions I dare to toot my own horn and ofcourse I learned a few things. I saw my first Reverse Osmosis system and I learned the technology and science behind treating swimming pool water. I had recently moved back to the Middle East after spending 8 awesome years studying and working in the USA, surfing and taking photos too.

So here I am, fresh off the boat in Bulgaria. Nice place. But for six months I could not find a job. I worked for a couple of months as a "duner" guy, 12 hour shifts sometimes at night, slicing meat and making "Duner" kebabs. I actually enjoyed it sometimes, i got to eat the best crispy pieces of chicken.... But that was a dead end job and I knew it... I went to London to visit a friend and job hunt, but Bulgaria was not in the EU yet and I got calls from recruiters but they asked about my papers and that was the end of the job interview. Money was tight so I hopped on the Goddamn bus again and went back to Bulgaria.

Out of the blue I got a call from a British recuiter about a water treatment job in Bulgaria. Damn Bulgarian HR fools made me go through the craziest psychological profiling and IQ tests I had ever seen in a job interview (after 8 years in the USA). I got the job as a water treatment supervisor at a big power station owned by an American company! Huhaaa ! My European dream was beginning to come true....

I worked there for 3 years. I bought a village home where I grew some vegetables, kept a pig and chickens and a dog!!! It was awesome.... Learned a lot of technical stuff, and learned also that some people like to rise up by slinging shit on other people. It was also my fault for criticizing a big American boss in a large meeting which lead to some political BS and I left the company after I got a job offer in Poland as a Turnkey Manager at a BIGGER and BETTER power station project. This power station was super-critical baby!

In Bulgaria I was learning, here I was kicking ass. I was married by then to a Bulgarian lass, they gave me a large house to live in with a back yard. I had friends come over and I used to cook for them. I bought an old S55 AMG 360 PS (German for horsepower) baby!!! I made some Polish friends and some German friends. Germans are really cold and reserved at first, but when the ice melts, they are good people. They are human after all... Polish people are generally kind and tidy. Some are local red necks and lack international flair. After two years in Poland, I was stationed in Algeria for a couple of months and then out of the blue I got a job offer in Switzerland baby!!!!!

Switzerland here I come... I got a desk job as a waste water engineer at an international Power and transport EPC company. Another step up right? Money was better, I was not a grease ball engineer any more on site. It was a culture shock to see all the paper work and design behind a power station but damn fascinating and again a learning experience. I learned how to use an excel sheet to calculate pressure loss in a pipe! I mean wow that is awesome right? I also learned how arrogant Germans and the Swiss can be. I felt like there was too much of the old continent's intertia in the company culture. The office of the chemistry expert looked so old fashioned and just old... He was an arrogant bastard that once told me he was "eating his sandwich" when I asked him an important question at an "apero" party. One Serb engineer who liked to brag a lot told me that it was less expensive to keep useless engineers here than to lay them off. Fucking awesome I thought! Finally some job security... I was gonna retire in this great country of chocolate and fancy million-euro watches.... The rivers and lakes are so clean in Switzerland that the fishermen complained that the mosquito population was dropping and hence the food supply for the fish. So they wanted to artificially seed the lakes with Phosphorus and Nitrogen to increase the mosquito population. Ofcourse the department of fisheries rejected the proposal... Imagine the culture shock for me someone who grew up in lebanon where they used to dynamite fish... My wife back then tried to move to Switzerland and my life was complete while my girls were living with me... I even took up golf because i was so bored when my girls where not here... I got toi visit Italy and Spain twice while I was there. Amazing places.

After three years I was laid off. Business was tough in the power sector there were no projects. My ex-wife did not like living in Paradise so she went back to Bulgaria. Instead of taking Swiss unemployment money, I sold my S-class and three motorcyles and took a high paying high risk job in Iraq at a sugar factory through a small French consultancy... ofcourse I was in charge of the decolorization process which is ion-exchange based something that is right up my alley. Made some good arab friends. Ofcourse on site, the Europeans were treated like Gods, the Arabs like shit. And never mind the neutralization basin, the pH 13 waste water we can by pass and dump in the river where I used to photograph the local fishermen and king fisher birds... I was hysterical.... Three months later, I was wrapping things up and I also got a job offer in a power station in Manchester!!!!

So here I am in the UK baby, where now I can work legally without any papers since Bulgaria joined the EU. I love it here. I am kicking ass at work and I can communicate with people who are more open than the Swiss weirdos. The cheddar is amazing. The quiches are delicious. Indian restaurants are everywhere and I discovered things like the Onion Bahji which I never heard of before. It took me 40 days to set up my internet at home with British Telecom and about 2 months to set up a bank account. Never mind. It's not as efficient as America... and the British are curious about Bulgaria and there are even 8000 Brits living there! I can afford to take vacations almost every month. I am working with a Spanish contractor and learning Spanish. "Soy de buena pasta... poquito terrorista, poquito mafioso" I told my Spanish friends and they laughed so hard....

So there you go... dreams do come true... and this is my European Dream....


Rami E. Kremesti M.Sc.

Manchester, UK

July 10, 2015