“Why do you clean the sidewalk? Why are you working like a chump for others?”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard these words. I used to get out in the morning in the winter when i was young and clean the snow from the sidewalk for the flat i was living with my parents. I did that after i moved to another flat and i do it now, not because the law says so, but because it’s the right and logical thing to do.

One thing i do remember from 10 or 15 years ago: grown men watching me from behind their windows. Some were glad someone else is cleaning the sidewalk, so they could use it, others did no understand why i was doing it.

So what is wrong with Romania?

45 years of communism made us ugly on the inside. We forget how to be human. We forgot how to help others. We are suspicious, mean, hateful and we do it for no reason (the proverb is “să moară şi capra vecinului”, which translates into “make others suffer if you are suffering”).

A girl from a orphan shelter i used to volunteer 14 years ago called me today to wish me happy birthday. She always cries on the phone and talks about us, the volunteers, helping her wake up and do something with her life. She lives in a small village near Bucharest in a two-room shed, works hard and wants to have a family.

Some of us would throw her under a bus for no reason. Some of us do nothing, but expect everything in return.