CULTURE

Surviving bosses and their whims for 58 years

»He took the piece of paper from my hands and tore it up. ‘You should have discussed this with me first,’ he said. ‘But where could I find you, Mr Botsis?’ I replied. ‘You were in Monte Carlo at that moment.’» This was not the first run-in Agamemnon Farakos had with one of his many bosses – in that case, Nassos Botsis, publisher of two dailies, the morning Acropolis and the evening Apoyevmatini. The sum involved, compensation for extra services rendered at the request of Farakos’s editor in chief, was not that big. Some years before (this incident took place in 1969), when Farakos was owed a much larger sum, Botsis had bought his employee an expensive car to settle the debt. This time, however, the employee had gone too far: The trip Farakos alluded to was one of Botsis’s regular gambling forays in Monaco, with money drawn out of the newspapers’ coffers, while his employees often went unpaid for long stretches. The outcome was predictable: «The meeting had taken place at 11 a.m… By the time I got home, at 3 p.m., a court clerk had already passed by to hand over the official announcement of my firing.» At 76, Farakos is still working as a columnist, 16 years since he officially retired and 58 since he got his first job. By his own reckoning, he has worked for 13 newspapers, a magazine, the state-run Athens News Agency, state TV, three private TV channels and a municipal radio station. Throughout the years he collaborated with all kinds of employers, including, in the dark days of the dictatorship, some in uniform. This collaboration has shaped his memories. Hence the title «Employers» («Ergodotes,» Hestia Publications, in Greek) given to a slim volume of his reminiscences. To judge by the contents, most of these owners were capricious and unpredictable. Only a few merit Farakos’s sympathy and only one is described as a friend. Almost all use, and abuse, their employees to their advantage. Working for them is often a ticking time bomb: That is why Farakos resolved, early in his career, never to work for a single employer. «Both times I broke that oath, I regretted it,» he says. While two employers are described in touching moments of weakness, crying like little children, both do so over a sheet with the day’s circulation figures. Despite his complaints, Farakos is understanding of his bosses’ foibles. He does, however, reserve his venom for two of them, the one being the aforementioned Botsis, the other, former Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos. Journalists will find many familiar figures and situations in this book, which is also a good read for anyone interested in journalism. It could have been a little longer: After all, someone who has been in the business for 58 years ought to have a lot more to talk about.