Andrea’s Roundabout                                          Download a PDF of this text for printing.

By Staffan Snitting


At the roundabout in Arese,

you're less than ten minutes away from San Siro

where Maldini governed the black and red

and Zanetti's black and blue were plagued by a curse

until Fiat's black and white got busted.

Less than ten minutes depending on the traffic,

which isn't as busy now that the Alfa Romeo plant –

by the roundabout –

is shut down, turned into an empty shell,

slaughtered by the owners of the black and white.


The Alfa Romeo monument has lost its shine

but it still reaches towards the sky

signifying not greatness but failure and inhumanity.

No more backs are broken here.

Neither by degrading alienation,

Taylorism, or Kaizen production quotas.

No more curses behind the backs of foremen

or secret schemes during lunch.

No more glances towards the factory clock

on a Friday afternoon.


The last whistle has been blown between shifts

and the last tired sigh has been passed on

through the clock-in queues.

Never again flirts from one line to another

now that romance has left the building.

Nothing is left

but walls without a purpose

and vegetation forcing its way through the concrete of the test-course

and a guard by the main gate.

Industrial corpses, the leftovers of chronic over-capacity,

need someone to administrate the process of decay.


At the other gate the guards are different.

Paulo and his comrades watch over their heritage –

the pride of the disposable workforce –

with red flags and banners by their camp.

Their presence reveals the hollowness of the buildings.

Flesh, bone and limbs find no use here anymore

but to remind and warn.


In between the gates

Andrea fixes her pink hot pants and seeks eye contact.

She has an energy drink, a bottle of water,

and a life left to live.

And traffic jams on the way to San Siro

are no longer due to shift changes

but to negotiations between Andrea and a customer

at the roundabout between the Alfa Romeo factory gates.