George Seferis, one of the great Greek poets of the 20th century, wrote that line. It has grown in the Greek psyche and come to be used on many occasions. You see it in the papers, and it is often mentioned in everyday life...
Almost a month ago I met some of Corfu's recent flood victims (plimmiropathis in Greek). They are a small family of three. Mum was away in UK. Dad and son woke up at 4.30 in the morning from the sound of water. Their bed was almost afloat... They couldn't open the doors to get out, which may have been just as well as they probably would have been swept away. As it was they managed to climb into the attic and wait out the flood, hoping the water would go no higher. It topped out at 2 feet of water in the house.
Almost all of their belongings were destroyed. Modern furniture is not made to withstand the rigours of a river flowing through the house.Personal stuff, mementoes, photos and pieces of their lives, all gone. Not to mention a car and a cherished motorbike... However, the kitchen table and some chairs survived, so we sat down to a cup of coffee and a chat.
He is Greek, she is English. They lived in the UK for 16 years. Corfu was the summer retreat. They decided to come back for good, some years ago. The main reason was their wish to see their boy brought up in a "healthier" place. As I drank my coffee and he his tea (in 16 years you can pick up habits easily!) he told me that they left the UK to escape the problems of the 21st century and found themselves facing the problems of the 17th! That phrase stuck in my mind, because it so eloquently describes how many of us living here, feel.
Floods and fires, storms and earthquakes happen everywhere. In every country of the world. It would be wrong to say that Greece has more, or does not handle these situations as well as other countries. When nature decides to move, few can stand in her way...
According to another friend who suffered from the floods, the local Nomarchis, Mr Poulimenos, visited the area the next day after the floods. When asked what will be done about the blocked waterways and partially destroyed roads, he said that things were difficult, and it might be an idea if they all got together and chipped in for some cement and asphalt...
Is there a difference? Well, i may have not spent much time abroad, but I think there is. Back in 1989, on one of my rare visits to the UK, I saw some roadworks on the M25. They were in the morning, they were there at night when we came back, (working under floodlights) but they were gone the next morning and thejob was done. I am sure there are exceptions but here it seems to be the rule...
I don't know what you think but I get this sense that almost nobody cares. The government doesn't care, nd the people doing the work don't care. Most of them got the job through "meson" and are not really that keen on working. Just on getting paid...
The last months as most of you know, all hell has broken loose in Greece. Scandals are being discovered and then, often, are swept under the proverbial rug, almst on a daily basis.
About a month ago, there was a lot o talk about the various benefits and bonuses that many public workers get. most of them are being cut.As some of you may know wages n Greece have always been much lower than in Europe. The oversized Greek public sector, found a way round that though. Over the years many, job and situation specific, bonuses and benefits have been worked into the system. In fact it is not uncommon for the annual total of bonuses and benefits to exceed the actual annual wage, sometimes by much more than double!!
I've put together a list of the more interesting ones. They have all been crosschecked and referenced...
Standardization benefit.This is apparently some sort of levelling out of wages for certain categories.
Position of responsibility benefit. An extra for all those in managerial positions.
Timely arrival to work bonus! Apparently bus drivers used to get it.
Transport of envelope benefit!
Use of foreign language bonus!
Use of computer benefit
Graduate of Public management school benefit
Special empolyment benefit
Presidential benefit (for those working for the president I presume...)
Special benefit for those working in "border" or "difficult" areas.
Special extra benefit for non-teaching work (given to teachers...)
Musical instrument replacement benefit
Special bonus for those working for MP or party offices
Teacher's preparation benefit
Technological research bonus
Having to abroad and use foreign languages benefit
Committee participation bonus
hospital and food benefit
Teachers working in Education ministry benefit
Translators and Interpreters benefit (actually interpreters are worth it, it is a very difficult job...)
Archaeiological digs bonus
Prison and rehabilitation personell benefit
Special bonus for those workingon the island of Delos
Special bonus for those working in Aliens Police dept.
Transportation benefit for municipal workers
Special incentive bonus
Abolition of special accounts benefit
Special benefit for those working in financial management
Bonus for faster and more effective transactions
Hand Washing bonus
Bus engine warm up bonus
Of course I don't mention fairly normal benefits such as marriage, child, study benefits.
I won't go on any more... I get frustrated just writing about it!!
However there is one last thing I want to point out. The main problem with the greek public sector is not the amounts that everyone was being paid, but rather the fact that the majority were getting too much for doing nothing. And what have they done to correct this? Cut everybody's wages. so now everyone is upset and even the conscientious ones are not too keen on working...
Wherever I go, you hurt me...
yet interestingly watch this video. it could be talking about Greece... and it's not!
check this out too.