After writing the article “That Monster Socialism”, I started thinking again about my friend Robert. I will not use his last name because he was well known in Europe. I say was because sadly, Robert is deceased. Robert was hit by a car while running across the street to get a pack of cigarettes in his hometown in Romania. I told him repeatedly that smoking would kill him and I guess in a way it did.
We talked frequently about everything from politics to string theory. I will always remember Robert showing me that there was really a mathematical value to zero. It was a long mathematical equation that I had no understanding of, but he found great enjoyment in explaining it. I miss him.
I met Robert when he was in the United States and he was just trying to get started in what he hoped would be a new life. He did not have a car and was riding a bicycle to get around. He was doing some computer work for a small stipend at a local company that I was doing some accounting work for. We would talk every day and I would help him with his acclimation to the doings of business in this county.
One day turned into ten years knowing Robert and I was amazed, no stunned, at how fast he learned how to make money in business. He thanked me for my help on nearly a daily basis and I finally gave up and was grateful for his appreciation. This short article will explain why he was so grateful.
Robert had a master’s degree in advanced mathematics and computer science in his own country when he came to America. Why did he come to America? When Robert lived Romania, it was in the 1980’s and it was the time when Nicole Ceausescu was the ruling dictator. It was the height of communism in the eastern blocs, before the overthrow of communism. After the overthrow, he made his escape. This was before the European Union.
I would listen with admiration to his stories of standing in line to get a chicken for dinner or how he sold CD” s of western rock musicians on the black market to make extra money. He told me of watching friends die in the streets during the fighting to overthrow and finally defeat Ceausescu. All of this while he held a professorship at the university and worked in the computer field for the government. Robert had a dream and he knew the United States held the answer.
Robert did not come here legally. I will not go into the details except to say that it would make a great movie. Robert was extremely intelligent and he used all his computer skills and fearlessness to attain his goal. During our frequent talks I would jokingly tell him that someday we were going to write a book about his adventure in coming to America.
Robert tried everything to find a way to stay in America. He went to countless universities from New York to Los Angeles. He spent 10 years trying before finally settling in the high desert of the Rocky Mountains. Robert started helping medical practices with their computer problems. His specialty was security. It was not long before he had a thriving corporation that was entirely his own and he was doing extremely well.
He had money, he had material things, and he had a very nice car. But he did not have freedom. The one thing he escaped from was still clinging to his being. He had no passport so he could not travel. He often thought of trying to find a wife so that he could obtain his citizenship, but that was just not Robert.
Robert knew what he did was wrong. But I did not blame him. I have never been that desperate, so I cannot be a judge. He hired attorneys in Los Angeles and tried every thing they advised. It was just not going to happen. He hoped every day that amnesty would go through the political system so that he could go back to work in his profession. Each congressional change would start with those promises, but nothing happened.
After ten years Robert gave up. He closed his business, took his substantial savings and went back to Romania. By now Romania was part of the European Union. Robert bought an apartment for cash and traveled Europe. He was no longer restricted and could go where he wanted. He had many friends in countries all over Europe and in some ways, he was glad to be back and able to visit with them.
After his wanderlust ran its course Robert took a position with an International Company that I will not mention. He oversaw company internet security worldwide. I talked with Robert by phone for hours on end until the day I called him and his brother answered Roberts phone and told me the news of his passing.
I am telling this condensed story because Robert would often tell me about communism and what it was like to live under it. He would tell me of shortages of everything from food to anything that came from the west including CD's that I mentioned earlier. He also told me in detail about the police state and how civil liberties were unheard of. Neighbors spied on neighbors for favors from the state.
One day violence with gunfire and killing erupted in the streets and it spread throughout the country. It did not stop until the dictator was dead. Communism was finally finished. But Robert knew the difference between communism and socialism and that socialism came in many forms. He would get extremely angry when he would hear people try to draw comparisons and similarities between communism and socialism. Robert was a prolific user of profanity and he would say “they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about!”
Of course, it was more enjoyable hearing him say it with his Romanian accent. Robert hated communism. But he also knew that without some social justices, greed would rear its ugly head and the common man would be the loser again. Robert was pragmatic. He would often tell me about his life now in Europe compared to when he lived there before and when he lived in the United States. He was happy that he went back and although he still wanted to be an "American", he felt bad for the way things were going in this country and how the world view of America had changed. Basically he was happy with the social progress his country had made and he was glad to be back.
I believe Robert. I believe him because he lived it. I miss him every day. Thanks Robert,