Since I was young my life has been work, work, work. In life you have to study, but I had to stop. I went to work as an electrician’s assistant, I worked four years in a supermarket that went bankrupt, I worked in a factory, I worked as a cashier at the bus terminal, I worked as a doorman. Then, when I was 20 years old, my brother began to build up a store for refrigeration. I was working as a doorman then, one day working and the other day off, and I worked in his store during my off hours. And now it’s 20 years that I’m working here in this store. That’s how it’s always been: working, working, working, through today. It doesn’t stop.
I like the work here. On a daily basis things are calm. If you come by here in the winter, at the beginning of spring, everyone’s here just sitting around. Nowadays, with the summer coming, the hot sun, we always get a lot more clients. Summer is a really difficult time: there’s no rest; no one here has time for anything else. Everyone around here has air conditioning, and so we’re always doing installations, maintenance, cleaning. In addition to our assistants, there’s three of us working here: myself, my brother, who’s the owner, and my other brother, who works as a van driver but also helps around here. He solders better than I do.
The best part of work is doing jobs outside of Maré. I’ll go to the client’s residence and give an estimate and he’ll say, “no, of course, go ahead.” He doesn’t want to know the cost, he just wants to have a good appliance. Here it’s different: here we always need to talk about the cost of our services and our clients can get upset; sometimes when there are problems they’ll complain that we didn’t do the service right. That’s fine – they pay, and we always give a 90-day guarantee, so we take care of those problems. But still, the best type of work is outside Maré. Everyone knows you here, and so they don’t give as much value to your profession or what you do. The people who we do jobs for outside give more value. At the moment we don’t have too many clients outside of here, because it’s just a different society. The best clients we have are at the Federal University nearby.
I had an accident recently while working outside of Maré. I was installing an air conditioner, and I stepped on the tiling and fell and broke my hip. At first people thought I was a thief, they called for the police to come. But then the ambulance came and took me to the hospital where they did an operation. Now it’s three months of recovery while I’m receiving benefits from INSS.* It’s not something that I’m accustomed to, taking a fall like that and being stuck the way I am now. At first I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t walk. It’s really frustrating not being able to work or do anything else. But I have to wait; it doesn’t help to hurry things like this. Thank God I didn’t hit my head, that I’m okay, that I’m recovering well. But I’m still in a lot of pain.
I’ve always lived here in Rio. I was born in Duque de Caxias, and from there I came to live here, in Nova Maré, when I was 10 years old. My parents had six children in total, three sons and three daughters, all of us got married. One lives in Caxias and the rest live here nearby, so we’re always helping each other, always seeing each other. I have a daughter who’s 13, 14 years old now; her mom and I are separated. Her and my nephew were born and raised here in Nova Maré. I have nothing to say against living here, it’s nice. Everything we need is close by: if you want to go to Copacabana, to Caxias, to Nova Iguaçu, they’re all nearby. There are grocery stores nearby, a butchery nearby, a bakery across the street – that’s a lot different from the zona sul.** Everything there is far away: the bus is far away, you have to take taxis. The only thing that’s missing here is a movie theatre. Apart from that, there’s nothing to complain about.
I like a little bit of everything. I’m eclectic, I like everything a little, there’s not anything that I don’t like to do. I play soccer and run; I like all types of music; I like going out, traveling, dancing, having barbecues on the weekends. Right now I’m going to a Congregational Church. I belonged to the Universal Church and now I’m in this one. I can’t say that I was always religious, because when we came to live here I wasn’t, I don’t think my mom was either. We met various people, those people who evangelize others, and through them we began to go to Church. I tried to go to Sweden when I was younger; I got my passport and had everything ready, but in the end it didn’t work out. I have my passport now in any case, so when I want to go, I can go.
For the future we hope that things get better. A better world, a better Rio. We’ll see what Dilma is able to do.*** Ten years from now, I don’t know how to tell you what I envision for myself. The future belongs only to God. How can I say, I want this, I want that, I want this other thing? Of course we desire many things in life. I would like to open a store for myself since I know my profession, I know how it works and everything. It wouldn’t be to gloat, just to be able to say: “I have this, it’s mine.” We have to always be thankful. Everything, always, with God above all else.
* National Institute of Social Security
** The zona sul is the south zone of Rio, the wealthiest region of the city, as opposed to the more working-class north zone, where Complexo da Maré is located.
*** Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil.