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Sunday, January 22, 2006 

It Was Bound to Happen

Sun, Sand....and lineups

When you become a permanent resident of Athens, you will also become a permanent victim of bureacracy. No matter how prepared you are, you will spend hours every week waiting in endless lineups to pay your bills or deal with the necessary evil called the civil service. Just because you wait patiently in a line-up does not mean that you will complete your transactions. That's just the first step in a long and arduous journey of lost paperwork, misinformed staff, strikes, vacations, and numerous mistakes which will keep you running from one department to another and they're usually never in the same building. Chances are, you will never get anything done the first time around and you will soon realize that employees and civil servants are never accountable for their own ineptitude and incompetence. You will be sent on a week long paperchase only to find out that all your efforts were for nought since the papers you received weren't the right ones or even necessary to have once you return them to a different clerk within the same department. I am almost convinced it's all part of the master plan to keep Greek citizens so wrapped up in paperwork so they don't have idle time on their hands to criticise the government and demand better service.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me to read that an off-duty policeman and his brother beat up a town planning clerk in front of his colleagues because the clerk had lost the man's mother's application for electricity connection to her home. What does surprise me is that situations like this one doesn't happen more often.

SW: Few months ago, I Saw an extremely aggressive man at the tax office screaming about why he DID NOT have to pay the amount they said he owed.

Hey, at least in Greece, they are brave enough to talk back to the tax man.

Shiver me timbers if I'd do the IRS like that.

The bureacracy sounds like Italy.
I don't know of any off duty officers beating up government officials though.

This is another prime example of having to know the right people to get the job done or bribe a civil servant just to do their job.

zardoz says :

I have great friends
from different walks of life
and beliefs
that i beat the hell out of
and they have come to be more
productive and responsible
people dont knock it fear
is a two way street were
education and communal responsibility are not front seat

and then again ..

its not everybody anymore
i am registering a new way
that young people 25 to 35.
civil servants
working with the public
have mellowed knowing the shortcomings of their departments
and will guide you thru
the mazes of greek law and illogic
making life easier...

I chased a tax man in around his office once
they grabbed me before
i could get my hands on him
he promptly sued.
later in the year he was
arrested for being on the take .

I now walk thru the local
tax offices , and its mr "here"
and "sir" there,

shouldve seen them then.




Even though he was so wrong, I'm very sympthetic to the cop. When we remodeled our house, and because the house would be uninhabited for a couple of years, we made the critical error in judgment of closing the electric account. It took countless visits to DEH with akoma ena harti, and still not electricity. At the point I was ready to fly over the counter at the clerk, we got a lawyer involved and a little local political help before and finally got back on the grid. Very annoying, but at least I avoided being arrested for assault!

Scruff...I think every resident of Greece has their stories when it comes to dealing with the public sector. And you're right...not just in the US but in Canada too, no one really challenges the tax offices but then again, I never really found a reason to.

j.doe...I'm surprised civil servants there don't get beat up or at least verbally abused on a daily basis for making our lives more hellish than need be. Maybe they do but it probably doesn't get printed because it's so common?

phantasmak...Yes, unfortunately, you're right phantasmak. Our taxes already pay for their jobs and many of them think it's their god-given right to extort more money from us so they can buy their retirement home. It makes me sick.

zardoz...I'm hoping the younger public sector employees will be able to make a difference and not be influenced by the ingrained corruption within the offices they work. It's pretty hard to be the one conscientious person in an office when the rest of them are actively working against your efforts though.

eleni...Thanks for taking the time to post on my blog! I really like your "akoma ena harti" phrase. I should have titled my blog that. That phrase is the catchphrase of the public sector and banking institutions. In fact, it's probably their daily mantra. LOL

OH, and SW: Congrats on a new Prime Minister in Canada.

Does that mean that Bush now has a new ally? (wink wink).

Again, congrats on your new PM.

Yup, I waited for hours to get a health certificate for my residence permit. And I hear that I may not get my residence permit before it is expired. Ah, Greece.
On the other hand, my sister contacted the Greek consulate in NYC about bringing a cat to the US, and they were extremely helpful. Go figure. I want to say that Greece has it's priorities all screwed up, but at least they haven't elected an imbecile lately. I guess that the US has some screwed up priorities too.

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