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Friday, September 16, 2005 

Inquiring Minds Read My Mail

How my mail SHOULD look...unopened.

Greeks are nosy people. They want to know where you're from. Why you're here. How long you've been here. How many children you have. How old they are. I've gotten quite used to the Greek Inquisition every time I speak.

My accent gives me away and I understand their curiosity. I'm also inquisitive when I meet people for the first time but I do know enough which questions I shouldn't ask for fear of over-stepping the line between curiosity and being just plain nosy.

I become irritated when their questions become a bit too personal and they start asking how much money my husband makes and what's my home address. I become livid when they read my mail. This is now the second building I've lived in where my mail has been taken, read and returned several days later to the lobby...envelope ripped open and the papers inside dog-eared from a very conscientious snooper. In my last building, they usually stuck to reading my tax returns. In this building, my bank statement and electricity bills have been opened. My Bill Clinton autobiography bookfrom Amazon was also stolen but I'm not sure if that was my neighbours or the post office. What would they do with that???? It's 1,000 pages in english and Bill Clinton??!! Why on earth would anyone feel the need to take that? I could understand it if it was Anna Vissi's but Bill Clinton? That would be like me pilfering a 1,000 page book in Greek on Costas Simitis. It makes absolutely no sense. Maybe they needed kindling for their fireplaces.

What is it about my mail which attracts people to break the law by opening and reading it? It's not by mistake either because I'm the only person I know who has had their mail opened and read. Could it be because my name is foreign and they just can't resist the temptation to find out if I'm working for the CIA? I used to think it was because I never had a mailbox in my last building and the postman just threw all the letters on the marble bench in the lobby. But in this building, I do have a mailbox so they're going through a lot of work to read my bank statements. The only hope I have is that they'll soon tire of this once they find out that my bank balance never hovers more than 100€ above zero and that the books I read would make watching paint dry a thrilling experience by comparison.

Good lord, I can't believe people do that to you. I haven't experienced anything like that, to my knowledge. I mean, if they have opened my mail, they didn't give it back to me. =p Besides, I have everything come in my husband's name (well, everything but my student loan information and my absentee ballots) so it is nice and Greek.

I do hate the way they do mail here. Our building in Athens had mailboxes but the postman never bothered to put stuff in them. Here, we do get some of our stuff in the mailbox, but other things, like the water/electric/phone bills, he just seems to leave on the shelf for people to sort through. And by sort through, I mean look through, get theirs, then drop the rest on the floor.


Well you have to understand that there's a fine line between being nosey and taking a healthy interest in other people. I don't think the questions in your first paragraph means they are nosey. Those questions are perfectly innocent.

I actually think it's funny that Greeks have such an interest in how much other people earn. It's not even total strangers. My mom asked me recently how much one of my cousin earns because my uncle had told her one amount and she didn't believe him. When she asked me, I had to admit that "yes, Kosta has told me in the past what he's earning and no, that information didn't stay in my memory and therefore I don't know. Oh and no, I'm not gonna ask him again". That's plain nosey, if they want you to know how much they earn and how much they clear each month. They'll tell you...

As for the mail, that's downright illegal. Why anyone would want to read your electricity bill is beyond me. They'd see ΔΕΗ on the front of it anyway and know it's not containing anything exceptional. As for your book, totally like the way you understand that if you'd purchased Vissi's autobiography then it'd go missing. Obviously you understand her worth now and can't diss her anymore like you used to!

Maybe it is because your name is foreign. Maybe it's because they think you live an exciting life and want to get some of the details or maybe it's just because these people are sad individuals who think nothing of invading other people's lives and breaking the law.

Obviously they need executing...

As for Mel's comments, I too don't like the postman leaving all the mail in the hallway. But on the flip side, when I was in the States, I was looking at all the mailboxes on the street. Again, even though you have your own personal mailbox. Anyone can come steal your letters if they want too right?

As an after thought...

It wouldn't be so bad if they stole your electricity bill and then paid it!!!!!!

Ellas...I think I made the 'fine line' clear in my second paragraph when I said I do understand their curiosity...I do the same thing but it's when their curiosity becomes intrusive that I get upset. If they wanted to deposit money in my bank account or pay my electricity bill then I'd make copies of my mail and drop it off in front of all their doors. LOL

I'd actually type out a letter and stick it up in the hall..

"To whoever it is who doesn't realize it's illegal to steal my mail, open it, read it then put it back...."

Maybe you should order, hmm, a bunch of "questionable" material...whips, chains, leather, "dark" porn, so that when the person in question opens it he/she will have a heart attack and/or be so afraid of you he/she will never bother you again, even to steal your mail.

Ellas, we had locked mailboxes - most modern condos and apartment buildings have those now. But yea, the mailbox outside of a house is a free for all, but it is also a felony and not a misdemeanor theft. Very few people want felonies on their record just for a chance that someone will have something good in their mailbox, especially since such neighborhoods usually have a nosey neighbor somewhere who would see the whole thing happen and thus could identify the perpetrator.

Mel...If I did that, I'd not only encourage them to read my mail more aggressively but they'd keep the contents too! LOL I did think about getting one of our police officer clients to come here and knock on everyone's door to 'remind' them that opening mail is against the law.

I have to agree that if you sent for "dodgy" stuff it would surely be kept!
I have had a bra taken from mail my mum posted of things i had left behind (used not new!!); a letter opened then scribbled all over in Arabic; another containing four bars of Willy Wonka exploding raspberry chocolate was missing one bar (now that's something I know the thief most likely did not enjoy!!)
The latest was a parcel from Amazon which my landlord brought up and said he had found downstairs opened and in a bad state. All was there, which struck me as rather odd - the bird book and ECDL book I wouldn't think anyone would want but the Playstation game?? I was very surprised that was there.
I was mad ... so mad I grabbed the postie when I saw him and demanded an explanation. (Unusually for me I was very self-controlled!) He said he had left it intact and the building entrance door was open so he dropped it inside.
All was revealed about a week later when an identical package came for the landlord! I was so tempted to whip it away. So I guess he made the mistake of thinking mine was his. Shame he wasn't man enough just to say he had opened it by mistake.
The positive thing to come out of this is I now have a wonderful relationship with the postie!! He's brilliant and says hello whenever he spots me out and about.

GOod things never last! The poor postie lasted about two weeks after that posting. He got run down by some woman! Oh well. The new chap seems fine though.

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