Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Codista? What’s YOUR time worth?

Not that I’m in search of one, but I’m ever on the lookout for interesting jobs. This has been a Pink Slip standby since way back in the day, when I believe my first one was about professional nit-picking, a job that has taken off since lice were reintroduced to the school systems a while back.

The one that I came across the other day was, alas, not in the US but, rather, in Italy. And the position of interest is “codista”, or queuer. As the name implies – queuer, not codista – a codista is someone who runs those errands that involve standing in line, like buying stamps, I guess which, other than TSA, is probably the line we’re most apt to find ourselves in. That an the line at the coffee shop. The closest thing we may have stateside to a codista is the guy that your car insurance company has run to the registry to get your plates.

Anyway, while the position is just invented, there is, apparently, quite the need for it in Italy:

According to Codacons, a consumer group, Italians spend on average 400 hours a year queuing. The annual time wasted is worth €40 billion ($44 billion), it estimates. (Source: The Economist)

400 hours a year? That would be roughly 8 hours a week?

I know that the Italians aren’t famous for their efficiency, but I’m calling cazzate on this one.

One workday per week devoted to standing in a line to get a paper stamped or a bill paid? Is this really possible? It sounds more like Soviet era life, when someone could spend a day in line hoping to get a roll of toilet paper made out of sandpaper.

Or course, while this just seems astounding to me, I really don’t know my Italy. I’ve only been there as a tourist, and the lines I’ve stood in have been at the Sistine Chapel (until I figured out you could pay a bit extra ahead of time to avoid it) and St. Peter’s (where my triumph on my last trip was body-blocking an aggressive young Spanish priest who was trying to push through the line. Sorry, padre.).

But Italy is known for its rather convoluted bureaucracy, and:

…it is not just Italy’s complex bureaucracy that keeps people waiting. Italian idiosyncrasies, which reflect a certain fiscal timidity, also play a role. Italy has one of the lowest rates of non-cash transactions in Europe. “Paying in cash is very widespread and people are generally reluctant to use either credit cards or direct debit,” says Mr Cafaro. This is consistent with the fact that Italy has one of the largest shadow economies in the rich world.

Anyway, the idea is the brainchild of Giovanni Cafaro. Cafaro, from what I can make of his Linkedin bio, is a marketing communications guy. Having lost his job, it came to him while he was waiting in line to pay a bill that he could offer his services to others who didn’t want to blow 8 hours a week waiting to pay their electric bills.

This is a real profession Cafaro has invented here, not just a one-off for himself.

Mr Cafaro has given the occupation a legal footing, with its own standardised contract, minimum pay (€10 an hour before deductions) and access to state-run industrial accident insurance (“in case, say, a codista trips on the stairs of a government office,” he explains). Mr Cafaro offers a five-hour course, which he gives over Skype. This includes learning the tedious requirements of central and local government departments for documents, signatures and charges.

I went over to the website of the capo di tutti codisti, but something was lost in translation.

They have left and are having considerable success my courses for Codisti with Skype.

Which I’ll translate as: unlike grads of Trump University, Codisti Skypers have found work in their chosen field.

I am receiving requests for Codisti from companies, professionals, caf and private, to be able to select Codisti trained and certified by me, I receive requests from North to South.

Can’t seem to find what “caf” means. The Italian is “caf,” and I’m too lazy to ping my paisano Peter to see if he knows what it means.

The Codista once trained and certified by me may practice codista-both as an employee or as a freelancer in Italy.

A codista may actually be hired by a company to run errands for employees so that they don’t spend all that time out of the office paying their cable bills. Or, like me, they can stay independent.

The bottom line is that it sounds like Cafaro is onto something here. The only downside is the paper work involved with hiring a codista requires standing in line. Or using a codista.




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