Litera F


The liquidated external debt led to measures of output control and terrifying rationing. Starvation was deeply felt and developed the tendency to stock up basic goods or "fear" supplies. Many people used to eat stale goods. There were many individuals who laid stocks and help the others or certain relatives. When goods went off they provided them with good food. They ate everything that was brand new. Frozen meat was consumed (fridges appeared that time, they were very much wanted and not in vain). Everyone had a relative in the country where a cow or a pig would be cut and if you managed to stock some meat, at least on Christmas, you kept it in the fridge for months. People ate meat that was stocked one year in the fridge. I personally did. To put it bluntly, between 1980 and 1989 I never stood in a queue to buy meat from shops. I often stood in queues, but the Romanian one was corrupted by other rules than an ordinary line. There was the "early riser" type ("bazdac", an Oriental word and manner) who went out to do his business and to save his place in the queue. He waited until the first gullible person came and said: "Mind I'm one place ahead" and after convincing him that he was one place forward, he went elsewhere and did the same thing. If he had to solve some things in different places he pretended to have saved his place and called a person who had been standing in a queue for four hours to plead as a witness. There was no problem if he had influential friends. His bag was empty when he left and full when he came back. (114)


You could barely find anything, and the food was extremely expensive. The catch was to have some connection at the food store, and that was how you could make some supplies. Food had not been rationed in Bucharest at that time, but restrictions had been imposed on buying (whenever there was a new delivery). It used to be better in the autumn, when you could buy a larger quantity of products, especially from the grocer?s. To be honest with you, in some ways I was better off in those days than today. The truth is that if you were level-headed, and knew how to get by, that is make connections, you could live quite well. I have to admit that in some ways I used to have a better life back then. But if you could get your hand on good food, and people would see coming out with a full bag from the food store, when the shelves were all empty, they could literally kill you, smash your head. (O. S., 41)

I remember the first queues for butter back in ?82; we were only allowed to buy two big packets of butter, 200 gr each. One packet was 8 lei, and after the prize increase in 81 it cost 11 lei. My granddaughter knew some people at the food store. She was ten years old, but she was very cute, and they would let her buy 3 or 4 packets. It was unbelievable. (C. V., 97)

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