athens: angry customers

Posted on January 28, 2006

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lineup.jpg

by seawitch

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 alike 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.