Persian work ethics
Beh pir, beh peyghambar, we are lazy
September 30, 1999
Here are a few major reasons why I believe our economy is in such a
Let's put aside Iranians abroad who are hard working people (because
they have no other choice?) and the ones in Iran who are so poor that they
have to work hard (and don't know a molla or have a martyr in the family
to get special financial assistance). Let's take the average young person,
a clerk, for example.
You walk into the clerk's office for a signature. Normally you are refused
and told to come back in a week. But why? The clerk gets a certain amount
of salary to a certain job -- let's say his job is to compare two documents
and sign one of them to confirm they are the same. He tells you he can't
sign the document because he can't find his stamp. Come back next week.
This "emruz boro fardaa biaa" mentality is nothing but cheating.
The clerk is being paid to do a job but he does not do it. A factory worker
does not work either unless his boss is around. No "aaqaa baalaa sar",
no work. Baabaa, beh pir, beh peyghambar, we are lazy. Why should the
quality of our products be lower than foreign products when we buy the
same damn machines from foreigners? Is it the lack of know how? Or is it
the lack of "vojdaan-e kaari"?
Here's another bright example: The total area under sugar cane cultivation
in Iran is 1.5 times larger than in Japan. Yet the Japanese produce three
times more sugar than us. That means we have to improve 350% to equal productivity
Productive work hours in a day is called "kaaraamad". Just
guess how many hours of productive work do Iranians have in an 8-hour work
day? It's not even a single hour. It's 11 minutes. 11 minutes in one whole
day. 11 minutes per person per day. And that has put us at the bottom of
the world productivity list, where south Korea is at the top.
We have 110 free days in a year (not counting Thursdays). We don't let
women work properly. And if we do we don't give them the same salary that
men earn. Have you seen the documentary "Divorce Iranian Style?"
It's beautiful. Apart from showing how strong Iranian women can be, it
gives a glimpse of work ethics in Iran. At the beginning of the film this
lady goes to an office asking for a document, and the fat, lazy clerk sends
her away for the second time telling her the document cannot be found easily.
And it's quite obvious that he's just a bum who does not want to do his
The funniest part is when he tells the lady to go away so that he can
drink his tea in peace. It just doesn't occur to his clerical pee brain
that he is not paid to sit there and drink tea. Who does he think he is?
A carpet dealer? Carpet dealers sit and drink tea and play backgammon,
Most Iranians have the zerangi complex. I don't have the slightest idea
where it comes from but you often hear "maa khodemun yeh paa qaaltaaqim",
"maa ghurbaaqaro rang mikonim jaa-ye foleks mifrushim", "uni
keh bekhaad sar-e maaro kolaah bezaareh hanuz be donyaa nayumadeh",
etc. I'm sure you know what I mean. Not everybody expresses it the same
way but most of us have this thing about being zerang. And it affects the
way we work.
We'd like to work less than others and earn more at the same time. We
think it's not necessary to work, rather we just need a good idea and we'll
be rich over night. Those who work are stupid; they don't have the brains
to become rich just like that. I'm the king of the world. I could make
millions in a day, but this government, the Americans, Israel, and my mom
don't let me, so I'm doing a bit of mosaaferkeshi until luck knocks on
How many times have you heard that people in Iran have to have two or
three jobs to make a living? I remember my father used to leave home early
mornings and come back late nights. I rarely saw him at home before 9.
My aunt's husband used to work at the Central Bank. When he got off at
2 o'clock, he would go to his laundry shop where he worked until 7 at night.
That was 30 years ago. People used to work long hours or had more than
one job before the revolution too. So why is it such a big deal nowadays?
I think in those days this zerangi complex wasn't fully developed. In
those days nagging was not IN. Over the years we have not learned to work
better or harder; we have learned to nag more often. We have become more
arrogant. I'd love to meet one of these professional naggers and ask him:
You did some major paarti baazi to find a job for your cousin (keh herto
az pert tashkees nemideh) and now you have the nerve to nag about the economy?
Did you care about the economy when you were doing your zerangi to smuggle
your unqualified cousin?
Did you know that the families of martyrs have quotas in universities?
Have you ever thought about what that means? It means the brother of some
soldier or paasdaar or basiji who fought in that insane war against Iraq
can get into the university no matter how kheng he is. He can actually
take the place of an intelligent student who deserves a higher education
for the good of the country.
Do you expect to see a healthy economy in a country that's in the hands
of shahid families, bonyaad criminals and baazaari mafia? Do you think
any program of any politician could lift an economy where any tohfe-ye
natanz gets the title of doctor, engineer, or architect just because his
brother is dead? Many management positions are in the hands of such people
-- zerang people. Just check the education level of the new head of Bonyad
Mostazafan which is the country's biggest conglomerate, and you'll see
what I mean.
And in the end, let's not forget about oil. Do I have to mention how
this damn oil has made us lazy? Instead of pumping oil out of the ground
all during this century, we could have built an industrial base to create
a lot more jobs and generate export revenues. It's time for us to put aside
our dependence on oil and start working.
With hope for more productivity and less zerangi, aamin yaa rabbal aalamin.
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