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Oddly enough, working legally in Ireland

Summer 2002 —


Late September (2002,) the human resources office up in Dublin discovered that I don't have a work permit — or so said the manager at Heaton's....

Let's see. Well, first of all, yes, I've been in Ireland for a bit. I got into Dublin last June — I flew from Spain on a whim and the chance meeting with an Irish fellow who told me there's work up here.

And there is; I've had seven jobs so far (If you count those two days at the Malt House in Galway and the two weeks at Café Sol here in Kilkenny.) I'm now working at Heaton's, a midsize shopping-mall type retail store smack downtown, and strangely enough I like it.

The other of my jobs have all been in kitchens and bakeries. These types of jobs come and go like the dust of the earth — and in my experience, the notion of legality is a matter of inconvenience. It wouldn't stop anyone from working in a restaurant if such were the fate one chose.

Oddly enough — and I like to speak of this in the respectful low tones that one uses to avoid conjuring any kind of a jinx — I'm working legally now, though I'm not quite sure how. At Lautrec's, the restaurant where I got work on my third day in Kilkenny back in September, the chef eventually asked me for my PRSI number. That's a tax number. Anyhow, I went up to the Social Services office and asked for one of them numbers. They photocopied my passport and that sort of thing, and told me to come pick up my card in a week or so. That was it.

(Later, out of work for a while, some friends recommended I try for the dole. Back up there at the same office, at a different window, I handed the lady my card. She said I wasn't eligible — hadn't worked long enough — and also that "you're not supposed to have this" (the card.) I said "I didn't know that," and gingerly took it from her fingers.)

16 July 2002, Kilkenny