Last Thursday, various French newsrooms and ministerial cabinets received an email signed by a certain Didier L. The author, physically disabled by a genetic illness, lost his job four years ago and today finds himself destitute. Here is the seemingly banal story of an "invisible man" who refuses to give up.
Forty-years-old, Didier L suffers from a hereditary illness of the blood. An artistic director, he's been looking for work since the company he worked for was liquidated in 2004. He sent his "Letter to France" to various MPs and journalists, right up to the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
You can send Didier a question directly onto his profile page. He prefers to remain anonymous.
Four years ago, the company I worked for filed for bankruptcy. I was able to take advantage of the redundancy allowance while I searched for a new job. I spent 14 hours a day, seven days a week, on the internet. Out of 300 CVs I sent off, I had three responses. All negative.
After revaluating my situation, I looked for work in emerging countries in the Far East. Very soon an artistic director's post was offered to me in Hong Kong, in a large American architecture company. I was in charge of the communication across the four continents. Not bad for someone who didn't get their baccalaureate |exams taken at 19 in France]... But sadly, the humidity didn't help my illness at all and increased the pains by 60%... Despite the morphine patches.
So I returned to France. I wasn't eligible for any benefits, not even an unemployment allowance or a disability allowance, because according to the authorities, my wife's salary was sufficient. Nothing. We wanted to divorce, but I didn't have the means. I'm now a tenant in my own home, which I can't pay for anymore. In France, I'm an invisible citizen, in a judicial gap. I have no income and can claim nothing.
None of my employers knew of my disability. Some of them found out later and were very surprised. They just said that I worked more than the others... If only they knew that behind the humour and enthusiasm, I suffered permanently and only the morphine patches enabled me to get up in the morning.... If they had known that my right hip was fake, and the left would soon follow, that my shoulders were ruined and I had constant pain in my chest and back...
But I want to be judged by my professional abilities. So I clench my teeth. And I work twice as hard as the others. In any case, who knows about this illness, that even doctors find hard to explain.
Must I live abroad forever, despite my illness? As at least, outside of France, people are impressed by my creativity, whereas here, I don't even pass the interviews, because I don't have any qualifications.
My situation is complex. It would be easier just to be handicapped, just to be unemployed or just to be destitute. Usually people who accumulate become rich, no?
So I'm invisible. Condemned to roving, condemned to charity. There's nothing I can do. Not yet. I have a last bit of pride.
Today, I would like you to know that such a situation exists. That it must be remedied. I ask of you, reading this letter, maybe you'll be the one to answer my call...
I'm going back to Hong Kong in September. I'm putting my remaining finances into the trip. I'm hoping to find work there. I think it's my last chance. Never mind if I suffer, I'll clench my teeth. But I need to work, I love my work too much."