Blanche, 76, a retiree working “like crazy”

The key in the lock. One round, then two. All you have to do is push the heavy door up to the civilian temptation building. The decor is nice. Customers are “cheated”. She does not linger, files directly in the service closet. The products are there, the equipment too. She likes when everything is in place. “Chiffonnette”, as she is nicknamed, does not hesitate to kneel down to brush the dust away from the corner of the stairs with her nail file. The 27 steps to reach the first floor, then the 17 to cross to the second, already worry him. The vacuum cleaner in one hand, the mop in the other, she trudges.

Blanche (1) is 76 years old. The breaking knees, the fatigue associated with his tension, “Bobos” which she has all over her body … Doctors warn her regularly by reminding her that her body has “how old is he”. A view that did “engineer”. But how do you live with the 690 euros from the pension insurance fund, to which are added the 208 euros of its complementary?

A career shortened by motherhood

So Blanche pushes his body to its limits to get the money in. For 13 euros an hour, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, she masons for three hours to earn almost 700 euros every month. She rents the room left by her daughter to bring some money back, but there again, the bedding to change, the bathroom to scrub, she ” Tired of “ . She wished she had more time for that “walk in nature”. Leisure time, which she especially likes, was practiced only on Wednesdays and a few weekends here and there. She also wants a vacation to enjoy her children and grandchildren. Time and money. Two elements that are missing in her retirement life.

Blanche is one of those women whose careers have been interrupted, interrupted to raise their children. She has four. Part-time work has all too often shaped his career. Born in the Vendée, the penultimate of ten siblings, she, who dreamed of becoming a hairdresser, was unable to study like her sisters. The family budget was already exhausted. When she was 14, her parents sent her to homeschooling, the mandatory passage for all young girls who had left school. Two years apprenticeship in cleaning, sewing, ironing, cooking.

When school is over, she quickly leaves the family farm and “Smelly poultry farms” to work in a hotel by the sea. Fat, housed, her first salary is 37 francs a month, she remembers. Wednesdays at the hairdresser who rummages in the shops to find the latest fashion clothes, paid with his tips, Blanche keeps fond memories of it.

Quote iconWorking like a madman is not enough to live. »

Marriage at the age of 20 followed, the birth of his children, which put his professional activity on hold. She continues to do something clean to make ends meet. And get divorced. With three children, she returns at four in the morning to earn enough to live on before finding a job in the Post Office’s canteen. A full-time position she held for twenty-one years. At the birth of her youngest, she resumed part-time work before being fired in 2000, when the postal service was privatized. The canteen takes over her cleaning on her own. Little by little, she expands her clientele. As a 61-year-old, strong from her 169 neighborhoods, she retired in 2007. Only here, “Working like a madman is not enough to live”.

Rising prices cause “panic”

His sisters and many others advise him to stop. “Easy to say when you have a pension of 2,000 euros a month. » Especially since the rise in gas prices does “panic”. She knows full well that without those hours of work, the cinema excursions, the holiday week, the restaurants, the envelope she filled for each of her eight grandchildren, it’s over. Like the furniture and decorative items that adorn his living room, offered by his clients as a reward for the quality of his work. Although her children have a great career, Blanche has her pride. And do not count on them. Ideally, she would even like to leave them a little, as her mother had done in her time. A few mornings ago, the pensioner says when she, before going back, said to herself: “Screw it.” But for this hyperactive, it means stopping too ” collapse “.

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