A Bright Future For Greeks:"Now I Clean Swedish Shit"

Tyler Durden's picture

One look at the short squeeze in the EURUSD, coupled with the endless jawboning out of Europe, and one may be left with the faulty impression that Europe has been magically fixed and that Greece couldn't be more delighted to remain in the Eurozone. One would be wrong. This is what is really going on in Europe:

As a pharmaceutical salesman in Greece for 17 years, Tilemachos Karachalios wore a suit, drove a company car and had an expense account. He now mops schools in Sweden, forced from his home by Greece’s economic crisis.


“It was a very good job,” said Karachalios, 40, of his former life. “Now I clean Swedish s---.”

That more or less explains everything one needs to know about the "fixing" of Europe.

Of course, those who saw our chart from yesterday which showed Greek unemployment rising by 1% in one month to a record 24.4% will hardly find this surprising.

For all those others who need a personal anecdote to grasp just how fixed Europe is, we hand it off to Bloomberg.

Karachalios, who left behind his 6-year-old daughter to be raised by his parents, is one of thousands fleeing Greece’s record 24 percent unemployment and austerity measures that threaten to undermine growth. The number of Greeks seeking permission to settle in Sweden, where there are more jobs and a stable economy, almost doubled to 1,093 last year from 2010, and is on pace to increase again this year.


“I’m trying to survive,” Karachalios said in an interview in Stockholm. “It’s difficult here, very difficult. I would prefer to stay in Greece. But we don’t have jobs.”


Greece is in its fifth year of recession, with the economy expected to contract 6.9 percent this year, the same as in 2011, according to the Athens-based Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research. Since 2008, the number of jobless has more than tripled to a record 1.22 million as of June, out of a total population of 10.8 million.


“In Greece, there was no future,” said Ourania Michtopoulou, who moved with her husband to Sweden in 2010 after both lost textile industry jobs in Thessaloniki, where they had a comfortable life with a house and car. “Here, I can hope for something good to happen. Maybe not for me -- I’m 48 -- but maybe for my children.”


Their family now crams into a small apartment, while her husband, Nikos, works for a landscaper and her teenage children struggle with Swedish lessons.


“It was not easy for them,” she said. “My daughter said lots of times, ‘I hate Sweden -- I want to go home.’”


Karachalios began his career in pharmaceutical sales after his mandatory military service, working at three different companies in the southern city of Patras. He married a Chinese woman he met at the 2004 Athens Olympics, had a daughter, and divorced.


“You can plan, you can organize, you can make plans for 10 years, 20 years, but you don’t know what life brings,” he said.


An intense man with flecks of gray in his thinning black hair, Karachalios said he has lost 20 to 30 pounds since moving to Sweden. His hands are stained with grime. Instead of the suits and ties he once wore, he now dresses in jeans and work boots. His suits remain in Greece.


In Homer’s Odyssey, Telemachus is the son of Odysseus, a Greek hero who spent 10 years struggling to return home from the Trojan War. Karachalios was named after a great-uncle who was a favorite of his parents.


Karachalios’s troubles began in early 2010 when the Greek government, which provides health care, forced drugmakers to cut their prices by as much as 27 percent. To reduce costs, his then-employer PharmaSwiss fired him and two other salesmen, leaving his former supervisor to manage the accounts, he said. Karachalios searched for jobs and eventually spent two months in 2011 as a telemarketer in Athens. He quit after not being paid. An ill-fated attempt to start a retirement home cost him months of work and most of his savings.


Determined to move, Karachalios considered Australia before rejecting the immigration process as too expensive. He had a friend in Sweden, had visited before and knew its reputation.


“I knew they were very organized,” he said. “Everyone pays their taxes and it’s fair. There is no cheating.”


Karachalios arrived in March. His friend helped him find a room to rent and he pays 4,500 Swedish krona ($670) a month for a room in a quiet apartment complex that houses other immigrants, many from the Middle East.


His studio has no stove or oven, just a hot plate and microwave. He has a single dish, and when he has a guest, he eats out of a plastic container that used to hold feta cheese. A tiny Greek flag is taped to the wall. The room came with a television though Karachalios said he never watches. In the evenings, if he has the energy, he studies Swedish.


Because of his background in health care, Karachalios at first applied for jobs caring for the elderly. He was rejected without an interview because he didn’t speak Swedish.


To find a job, he began knocking on doors of restaurants and janitorial companies, and eventually found a position cleaning rental houses. It was hard, lonely work that didn’t allow a break for lunch, he said. His first week wasn’t paid because he was told he was being trained. After his second week, when he was paid for only 32 hours instead of the 40 he said he worked, he wasn’t called back.

In Greece, Karachalios was paid between 2,500 and 3,000 euros ($3,143-$3,772) a month, after taxes. In Stockholm, he makes 80 krona an hour. Based on a 40-hour work week, that equals about $1,907 a month.


“I was doing something more glamorous but I don’t mind this work,” he said. “I feel alive again. When you are unemployed too long, it’s very hard. I was angry all the time.”


Karachalios wasn’t paid until mid-August for work he did in July. In the meanwhile, he lives frugally, saving half-smoked cigarettes while he waits for his parents to wire money. He also worries about finding another job, which will be necessary once school resumes and the cleaning contract ends. If he can’t find a permanent job in Stockholm, he said he may move with his daughter to Shanghai, where his ex-wife lives.


“I don’t have anywhere else to go and work, and it would be helpful for my daughter,” he said.


Karachalios wakes at 5 a.m. with the sun already up because of the long Swedish summer days. He checks Facebook on his phone for news from Greece and takes the subway one stop to Rinkeby, a gritty working-class neighborhood. Near the station is a parking lot where people without homes sleep in their cars, leaving their shoes and bottles of water outside the doors.


After a cigarette with his co-workers -- all immigrants from Greece -- Karachalios piles into the van for the 45-minute drive to the outskirts of Uppsala, a small city north of Stockholm. Today’s job is to finish cleaning the elementary school they began working on yesterday. They start at 7:30 a.m. and work 2 1/2 hours before breaking. For lunch, they share their food, with Karachalios bringing fried meatballs for the group.


Karachalios is charged with cleaning the dozens of double- paned windows, which takes its toll on his back and shoulders. On other days, he cleans floors. In his pocket, he carries a razor blade for scraping the gum off linoleum.


“I’m tired of all this,” he said. “I want to close my eyes and wake up in 10 years and not have to worry.”



"To get to be 40 years old, it’s very hard to accept that your life is going to be like this,” Karachalios said.

Ah.... "European utopia."

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jcia's picture


Pladizow's picture

Id rather clean up after cheese and chocolate, then Gyro and yougurt!

malikai's picture

I could kill for a good gyro right about now. Sadly over here all we have is shitty kebab shops. Which are good on a bender but the next day it's messy.

bdc63's picture

Swedish Shit ? .... funny, that's what I call "Ikea" ...

Mark Carney's picture

Greece is in its fifth year of recession, with the economy expected to contract 6.9 percent this year, the same as in 2011,


For the one hundreth time, thiat is called a DEPRESSION, for fucks sake, even in technical terms its a depression......*face smack*

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Mark Carney lol....

You named yourself Mark Carney LOL!

JPM Hater001's picture

And here in is why you should either fix it early or just let it run off the cliff fast. 

Manthong's picture

You know how when you’re on your hands and knees cleaning a squat toilet and you just know that the guy who last used it had svampsoppa, kroppkakor, and gravad lax for lunch?

I hate when that happens.

Colombian Gringo's picture

Cleaning swedish shit? At least it's better than eating Obama feces

BaBaBouy's picture

"Sweedish Shit" ???


More Like GoldMan-S Shit ...

FEDbuster's picture

This story has "Max Keiser" written all over it.  Can't wait to hear Max talk of Greeks cleaning up Northern Euro zone member's shit.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Just cleaning? They've been eating the stuff since the common currency was IMPOSED!

stocktivity's picture

All the jokes about the poor guy piss me off. It brings the real tragedy into focus. Those with jobs or a pension don't realize how lucky they are. Sad.

AldousHuxley's picture

sales reps = liars


now he has a real job.


what's wrong with that picture?

I am on to you's picture

Its the real job,thats wrong,,and he might get dirty,thats not for salemen,to be dirty,only underlings gets dirty,brave new world!

And now he,s gona learn, what it meens to pay tax,damn difficult word!

Davalicious's picture

It is sad to hear his story. But Greeks were encouraged to take high salaries, and big debts, for their worthless labor. Consider the recent ZH story showing that Greeks are some of the least productive people in Europe. They were suckered. The Jew banks are to blame, not the Greeks.

But Greeks must never expect to get back to their something-for-nothing life style.

AldousHuxley's picture



cheap labor.....Greek's are Europe's Mexicans....


by the way, pharma rep < janitorial services in terms of social contribution perspective.


how come this can't happen to American liars on wall st? I'd like to hear bond sales say "Now I Clean Canadian Shit"




Blasé Faire's picture

From the full article:

“He’s also bitter about comments made by former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who said in interviews abroad in 2009 that corruption and tax evasion were to blame for Greece’s problems. ‘Who, me?’ Karachalios said. ‘I’m not lazy. I didn’t steal from the government. I was honest and they made me like this, to come here.’”

Has the Greek media really covered up the widespread tax evasion?

donsluck's picture

It is ironic, I think, that the high interest rates for a lot of EU countries reflects a healthy bond market, reflecting actual risk. With ECB proposing to buy up national debt, they are killing the healthy bond market. Now the EU will follow Japan and the USA down into the de-capitalization hole. Go gold!

AnAnonymouses's picture

Europe need fixing like fat American citizenisms need colon cleanse!

ceilidh_trail's picture

Shut up and get me an egg roll.

Kayman's picture

When Mitt Obamny finishes the turnaround for the American economy, AnAnonymouse will have American Citizenisms cleaning up Chinese Shiticisms on the streets of Beijing.

America, destroyed from within. 

AldousHuxley's picture

Americans are so stupid, they PAY for Chinese "Shit".



Jolly.Roger's picture

Dumb f*ck thinks Switzerland is Sweden

laozi's picture

Even in China they mix up Sweden and Switzerland, but there the counties are called Ruidian and Ruishi.

Lohn Jocke's picture

And somehow we get "Greece" out of "Ellas"... but what can you do?

Ahmeexnal's picture

And somehow he must have also mistaken Solothurn with Stockholm, eh?

SheepRevolution's picture

"Id rather clean up after cheese and chocolate, then Gyro and yougurt!".

The article is about swedish shit, not swiss shit.

miltiadis's picture

Just ask a Greek what opinion they have for Greek pharmaceutical salesman i can tell you that this article in the Greek media has a lot of hate comments below it for them...

Abraxas's picture

"Greek pharmaceutical salesman" - that's what they call a drug dealer

BaBaBouy's picture

EURO Masters Need The Slaves...

The Continental's picture

TidyBowl bitchez!!!!!

Jlmadyson's picture

Clearly there is zero answer for Greece and they will fallout by year end is my guess at this point.

Every indication from Euro heads point to them not caring at this point either.

Even if there was a super secret meeting to keep them in by US elections.

I might add Spain is not that far away from this same fate.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

Hopefully the same will be said of the fraud peddler primary dealers, as well as Central Bank hucksters.  They've been shoveling shit for years, so that group of people would be well suited for custodial jobs or horse barn cleanup.

GolfHatesMe's picture

Swedish Shit - also known as all of the merchandise at IKEA

ceilidh_trail's picture

Mostly, actually made in china.

dugorama's picture

Prior to 1989 it was made in East Germany.  

blueridgeviews's picture

This is what happens when the public elects officials who promise them stuff and pay no mind to the fiscal situation.

It's fortunate for rulers that men don't think.

Yen Cross's picture

 Coming soon to a "Theatre Near You" , named the U.S.A.

TrumpXVI's picture

Ah, my thought exactly.

But you were faster on the trigger.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Dude, it has been like that for awhile here.

ArrestBobRubin's picture

"I've seen the future Brother, and it's shit"

with apologies to the great Leonard Cohen

Abraxas's picture

Nothing new. Latvian Engineers and Moldavian lawyers have been driving cabs in NYC for years.

Xibalba's picture

I spoke with a cabbie who was General Counsel at Lehman.