It always surprises me (and many other people, including Greeks themselves) how many institutions operate in Greece, especially in the governmental sector. It is like the time has stopped here and people forgot about the word “progress”. It is still not unusual to see 11 people in one office, where 10 people make a coffee and only one person is available for the clients or while being served, the man in the check window consumes a KOULOURI (κουλούρι/ a sort of bagel, but skinnier and with lots of sesame seeds sprinkled on top) and spreads all his crumbs on your papers (has anyone here heard about the lunch break????)
JUST LOOKING AT THE FAMOUS KOULOURI, I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF THIS BREAD TO CRUMBLE;)
No matter how controversial it sounds, I have to admit that the whole crisis pushing into radical sudden changes and creating the atmosphere of let’s call it “fear” has a positive influence on such unprofessional behaviors .In other words, the possibility that permanent posts of civil sector (many times being paid much more than in the private sector) will not be permanent any longer (now in Greece civil servants, once accepted, keep their post till the retirement - one of the GREEK PATENTA/Ελληνική πατέντα/ patent!) and the fact that competition is slowly breaking the walls of many monopolies that comfortably settled down in Greece for the past years may bring some light in the dark tunnel of Greek economy. Looks like it had to go so far and Greeks had to start struggling for me and others to be served with a smile and politeness in this country. Believe me, it wasn’t always an obvious part of the Greek reality. At least now almost everybody has it difficult and finally people who keep their jobs act nicely and respectfully!
Banks in this country this is a separate story but based on my experience, during the years of Greek prosperity, they also developed a kind of nonchalant behavior towards their clients. At least now, all bank branches have security doors and during my recent visits in some banks, no one was spitting koulouri sesame seeds on me. Though, today, when I went for some money exchange, I was amazed by the following picture:
In the whole bank, at all checks, there was only one computer! There were three ladies sitting around the tables (from the design of the furniture I assume that those tables remember the times of Andreas not Giorgos Papanderou, just from the beginning of his career as Prime Minister of Greece, started in 1981). Right at this point I began to wonder if they really need those security doors since there was not much to steal! Then, the three ladies commenced their service: one wrote down all my personal data from my ID card and told me to sign the paper. After I signed, the same paper was passed to the second lady, who simply stamped it. Then she passed the stamped paper to the third lady, who stamped it again and gave it to me so I could put there my second signature. After my paper made a full circle around the Papandreou’s table, I could finally go to the cash desk to exchange my money.
Truly, the whole situation looked like from some surrealistic movie or Polish communist times where the flow of big cash was done in the grocery stores or in other non-bank related places. It didn’t remind me a bank operation at all! Stuff looked like they have just woken up, put on some random clothing and appeared to sell vegetables, not to deal with people’s money! Well, on a bright side, at least they were pretty quick and polite.
After all that, I can only add that under such circumstances, there is still a long way to go!
Greece has definitely many unexplored fields!