Monday, June 25, 2007

The plight of the mileurista

First things first. What is a mileurista, and why should we care? Under normal circumstances, I would give this question the careful, backed by the best google-research, answer it so clearly deserves. But circumstances here in Madrid are far from normal. Already today, I have been an active and dedicated participant during seven hours of classes, and spent an additional hour doing homework for tomorrow's classes. Actually, come to think of it, those are my normal circumstances here in Madrid. The result is that I am hecho polvo (literally "made into dust", colloquially "knackered"; do not confuse hecho polvo with a similar phrase, echar un polvo, whose meaning is left as an exercise for the diligent reader, and which should not be used in front of your abuela.) Accordingly, let the reader be warned that I am in special Laz-i-Blog mode, meaning that I not only reserve the right to make up stuff out of whole cloth, but intend to exercise that right freely in whatever follows.

The plain people of Ireland: This is an outrage!

The management: So what are you going to do about it? Sue me?

(indistinct sounds of muffled Hibernian indignation)

So, where was I? Oh, yes. A mileurista is someone whose monthly salary is approximately one thousand euros (1.000 €, as they would write it over here). A relevant figure because it represents the salary of a "typical" Spanish worker in their* twenties. As we are in Laz-i-Blog mode, let us accept the convenient fiction of the "typical" Spanish worker without further question.

Why am I telling you all this? Simply so that you will have a point of reference for the list of prices that follows. Because, clearly, the view of an affluent visiting foreigner (that would be me) is quite different from that of someone attempting to live in Madrid on a salary of 1.000 € per month. An approximate conversion factor is 1.00 € = $1.40.

  • Price of breakfast (cappucino + croissant) at Faborit : 2.15 €
  • Price of the same breakfast at Starbucks (sorry, eStarbucks) : 4 to 5 €
  • Ticket to see "eShrek Tercero" : 6.50 €
  • Cost of having 2 pants dry-cleaned : 10 €
  • Cost of having 5 shirts laundered and ironed (never again!) : 20 €
  • Cost of a haircut : 16 € + 2 € tip
  • Cost of a 3-star hotel room in central Madrid : 80 € + 7% tax
  • Cost of a 3-course lunch, including beer : 8.95 €
  • Cost of a beer in a regular Madrid bar : 1.75 to 3.00 €
  • Cost of a beer in a regular Seville bar : 1.10 to 2.00 €
  • Cost of having the nice man at the Corte Inglés relojería replace your watch battery while you wait : 5.25 €
  • Cost of the fan that Paddy bought as a present for ... : oops! I can't tell you that.
  • Cost to rent any kind of decent apartment in central Madrid : starts at 600€ per month
  • Cost of a bottle of water in any Madrid disco worth the name ª : 12 to 15 €

You begin to see why the poor mileuristas still live with their parents up to and beyond age 30.

* : yes, I know about agreement between subject and possessive pronoun, but his/her is an abomination.

ª: Remember, if trying to gain entry to a Madrid disco, the cardinal rule is: "no jeans, and no snickers". So, check your attitude at the door, bub!

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